A B.C. pharmacist who supplied methadone to undercover investigators acting as patients has been fined $20,000 and suspended for 18 months by the College of Pharmacists of B.C.
“The totality of his conduct demonstrated an egregious breach of trust and undermines the integrity of the profession,” the college said in a September 21 decision.
“During the time of the undercover investigations, he appeared to have knowingly neglected his basic duties as a pharmacist, and knowingly committed or allowed actions that were unethical and could potentially endanger patient health.”
Mir Rashid Ali was an owner, manager, and working pharmacist in Surrey and Vancouver. This is his second suspension in two years.
Ali admitted to providing undercover investigators with cash as an incentive to continue delivering prescriptions to one of the pharmacies he owned and where he was the manager and working as a pharmacist. He also acknowledged advising the investigator how to daily dispense from a prescriber so the investigator could be paid more cash as an incentive to continue delivering prescriptions to the pharmacy.
The college said Ali violated its code of ethics and standards of practice.
The decision said Ali gave an investigator a four-day supply of medication despite the medications having been processed daily on PharmaNet and despite the prescription directing the medications be dispensed daily.
It said he twice told an undercover investigator how to have medications dispensed contrary to legislative standards.
The decision said that on multiple occasions, Ali gave an investigator a seven-day supply of medications all together, contrary to the prescription.
Ali also dispensed unauthorized amounts of methadone, a drug used for opioid withdrawal, to an investigator in multiple occasions.
Ali told the college he provided cash incentives to compete with other pharmacies and also out of fear, as had been was assaulted by a patient for refusing to pay incentives.
He agreed, however, there was no excuse for his conduct, the decision said.
During his suspension period, the college said Ali cannot act as owner, manager or shareholder of a pharmacy for a period of five years.
Following his suspension, Ali must work under supervision of another pharmacist for five months. He must also complete the B.C. Pharmacy Association’s opioid agonist treatment compliance and management program.
Ali had just finished an earlier, two-year suspension as a pharmacy manager and had been fined $7,500. In that 2018 case, he was suspended as a pharmacist for 90 days.
Ali acknowledged that between Jan. 1, 2013, and May 19, 2015, while he was a director and pharmacist at two different pharmacies and manager of one of them, many prescriptions at both pharmacies were late-filed, meaning that dispensing records for these prescriptions were created on dates later than the dates on which the drugs in question were actually dispensed.
In many instances, claims were for patients who were in hospital at the time of the Pharmanet billing, “suggesting that these patients may not have received the supplies claimed,” the earlier college decision said.