A British pharmacist, originally from India, was sentenced to 12 months in jail by a court in the United Kingdom on 16 June for stealing GBP5,000 worth of prescription drugs and selling them on the street.

Pharmacist used old system to avoid being caught

Niren Patel, from Ilford, Essex, pleaded guilty in May to two counts of fraud by abuse of a position of trust, possession with intent to supply a class B drug and five counts of possession to supply a class C drug. The 38-year-old was charged at the Snaresbrook Crown Court in March for his indictable crime.

It was revealed in court that Patel, who worked at Day Lewis pharmacy in Hornchurch and Hedgemans Pharmacy in Dagenham, had been creating fraudulent prescriptions for drugs from these pharmacies – totaling the extravagant amount and claiming the drugs himself. This was reported in the Pharmaceutical Journal.

Patel’s employer, Day Lewis Pharmacy in Park Lane, Hornchurch, made a report of theft to the police sometime in August last year and an officer in the Met’s Controlled Drug Liaison team, subsequently, ran an investigation. During the investigation, authorities reviewed analysis of stock records and drugs bought by Patel at both his work places and discovered his scheme.

The detection of this incident only occurred once the pharmacies’ order systems were altered to enable orders to be primarily entered online. Prior to this change, all the orders Patel placed were through the old system – over a mobile phone.

Drugs sold are Class B and C medications

Class C drugs were amongst those that he stole, e.g. Xanax, Diazepam and Zolpidem. These sedatives are used as ‘downers’. Other drugs he stole included the class B drug, Dexamfetamine. This medication is used for weight loss and to enhance academic performance. Besides that, Patel also stole and sold Genotropin, a growth hormone commonly used by bodybuilders.

Patel admitted to selling the drugs on the street during police questioning.

Detective Constable Beverley McInerney of the Met’s Organised Crime Command said, “Patel abused his position as a pharmacist by creating fraudulent orders for prescription drugs and then sold them on the street. The drugs he sold are highly addictive and dangerous when given to someone without a prescription.”

One of many pharmacy-related criminal cases

In Los Angeles, pharmacies are also making headlines as investigators are sourcing out unlicensed pharmacies in the area. One such establishment has been tracked and the LA City Attorney, Mike Feuer is pressing charges in efforts to protect public health.

The store, which sells candy, snacks, herbs, tea and piñatas, was also found to be selling mislabelled and counterfeit drugs. The owners are not licensed to sell pharmaceuticals and the store is not a registered pharmacy.

“Counterfeit, fake, mislabelled pharmaceuticals are very hazardous to the public. There are many people in Los Angeles, especially from immigrant communities, who often turn to places that are not licensed pharmacies for medication,” said Feuer.

These fake medications could contain harmful ingredients and successively trigger allergic reactions or consist of incorrect dosage amounts. Feuer added that immigrants who are residing in the area illegally might refrain from lodging a report about these medicines to the relevant authorities because they dread being involved with the legal system. MIMS

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