Solihull pharmacists Narvinder Nandra and Dean Dookhan were sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on Monday (July 12) for illegally supplying a prescription-only medicine to the Caribbean.
The duo used the pharmacies they worked in to divert more than 20,000 packets of Zolpidem — worth around £600,000 — to Trinidad and Tobago, during 2015 and 2016.
Dookhan, aged 40, was sentenced to 27 months, while Nandra, 48, received a slightly longer term of 30 months because he lied about his involvement in the racket.
Announcing the sentence Judge Francis Laird QC said: “Pharmacists are trusted to purchase, store and supply under prescription a variety of drugs, some of which are controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act. It’s for that reason that selling a controlled drug on the black market is such a serious offence.”
An investigation led by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) found that of the hundreds of thousands of doses of Zolpidem purchased from wholesalers, only a small percentage had been dispensed against prescriptions. This left almost 600,000 pills unaccounted for.
Dookhan who worked at Northbrook Pharmacy in Shirley ordered Zolpidem from suppliers before transferring it to Nandra at Gospel Lane Pharmacy in Olton to package and export it to the Caribbean.
Grant Powell, the MHRA enforcement officer leading the case, said: “It is a serious criminal offence to sell controlled, unlicensed or prescription-only medicines in this way.
“Anyone who sells medicines illegally is not only breaking the law but clearly shows a total disregard for the health and welfare of anyone who may purchase them.”
Prescription-only medicines are potent and should only be taken under medical supervision. Their sale outside the legal supply route could lead to vulnerable people being exploited.
Powell added: “We work closely with regulatory and law enforcement partners to identify and take action against those involved, including bringing a criminal prosecution if necessary.”