GPhC

The General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) has removed a pharmacist from its register who black-marketed ‘zolpidem’ along with another pharmacist between 2015 and 2016.

Dean Zainool Dookhan, a pharmacist first registered with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain on 18 October 2004 and whose registration was later transferred to the General Pharmaceutical Council under registration number 2059808, was jailed last year for exporting 20,000 packets of zolpidem to the Caribbean.

While hearing the case on 24-25 May, GPhC’s Fitness to Practise Committee stated that “removal of the Registrant’s name from the register is the appropriate and proportionate response to his convictions.”

“The public interest includes protecting the public, maintaining public confidence in the profession, and maintaining proper standards of behaviour. The Committee is entitled to give greater weight to the public interest than the Registrant’s own interest in remaining on the register.”

“The Committee recognises the sanction has a punitive effect in that the Registrant’s ability to practise and earn an income as a pharmacist and 28 his professional reputation will be curtailed; it will be five years before he can seek restoration to the register. However, that is the price he must pay for failing to comply with the fundamental tenets of his profession.”

It also added: “Removing a registrant’s registration is reserved for the most serious conduct… The committee should consider this sanction when the registrant’s behaviour is fundamentally incompatible with being a registered professional.”

Dean and another pharmacist were found pleaded guilty of possessing a medicinal product, Zolpidem, for the purpose of wholesale distribution otherwise under a licence and that is an offence contrary to the Human Medicines Regulation of 2012 and an offence of supplying a controlled drug of class C, Zolpidem.

Zolpidem is a sleeping tablet and is a class C controlled drug. It is prescribed on a short-term basis to adults who suffer from insomnia. It can only be supplied lawfully to an individual on prescription and on a wholesale basis with the appropriate licence with the MHRA.

Between 1 September 2015 and 13 May 2016, both pharmacists acted together, in selling and exporting Zolpidem on a wholesale basis to a man called in Trinidad.

Dean’s actions were discovered when the owners of Northbrook Pharmacy became suspicious of the unusually large quantity of orders of zolpidem and an MHRA investigation was commenced.

He was given a 27-month prison sentence on July 12, 2021, at Birmingham Crown but was released early, on a licence, from prison on 14 April 2022. He remains under the 14 supervision of the Probation Service, being subject to a home curfew. His licence is due to expire on 11 October 2023.

The decision of removal from the register will be effective after 24th June, if no appeal against the decision is lodged by Dean until the said date.

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