A Sutton Coldfield pharmacist has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for selling more than 800,000 doses of class C drugs on the black market, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said.

The pharmacist, Balkeet Singh Khaira, 36, pleaded guilty to five counts of supplying class C drugs on 9 February. He was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on 2 March.

Mr Khaira had made over £59,000 from selling drugs including diazepam, nitrazepam, tramadol, zolpidem and zopiclone on the black market in 2016 and 2017. The value of the pills on the black market is estimated to be over £1m, the MHRA said.

The pharmacist, who worked at his mother’s pharmacy in West Bromwich, was charged following an investigation by the MHRA.

Records found at the pharmacy revealed that though hundreds of thousands of doses of medicine had been purchased from wholesalers, only a small number had been dispensed with a prescription and more than 800,000 pills were unaccounted for.

Mr Khaira later admitted he had sold to drug dealers, the MHRA said, but claimed he initially made a voluntary sale and was forced to sell further pills after he was threatened.

The investigation began after allegations that the pharmacy was selling prescription-only medicine without a prescription.

The General Pharmaceutical Council contacted the pharmacy about these claims, to which Mr Khaira provided falsified evidence to try and disprove the allegations, the MHRA said.

His mother was not involved in any of the criminal activity.

MHRA enforcement officer, Grant Powell, who led 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 could be exploiting vulnerable people and clearly has no regard for their health or welfare. Prescription only medicines are potent and should only be taken under medical supervision.’