A pharmacist has been removed from the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) register for illegally supplying the Class C drug zolpidem outside of the secure supply chain and into the black market.

Dean Zainool Dookhan was convicted on 12 December 2019, and sentenced on 12 July 2021 to 27 months’ imprisonment, the GPhC fitness to practise committee heard on 24 and 25 May 2022.

Mr Dookhan pleaded guilty before Birmingham Crown Court of possessing a medicinal product for the purpose of wholesale distribution otherwise in accordance with a licence, and supplying a controlled Class C drug to another, in contravention of section 4 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

While working as a pharmacy manager at Northbrook Pharmacy in Shirley, the panel heard that Mr Dookhan had, between 1 September 2015 and 13 May 2016, ordered zolpidem and transferred it to a registered pharmacist in a pharmacy nearby, who packed it and arranged its export to Trinidad.

In total, more than 20,000 packets were exported, amounting to more than 500,000 individual tablets.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) launched an investigation after the owners of Northbrook Pharmacy became suspicious of the unusually large quantity of orders of zolpidem.

The committee described it as ‘wholly inappropriate’ for Mr Dookhan to return to practice while still serving his sentence. They also said that a warning was ‘not sufficient to mark the damage done to the reputation of the profession by the two convictions’.

This is despite mitigating factors such as a previously unblemished career, his guilty plea, efforts to turn his life around during and after his time in prison, and compliance with the GPhC investigation.

They said: ‘The Registrant has demonstrated a sustained lack of respect for the laws of this country and failed to abide by most of the fundamental principles of his profession.

‘He has supplied controlled drugs for personal financial gain and to improve his standing with his employer and his career generally. He has acted without honesty and integrity on a large scale and over a prolonged period within the practice of pharmacy.’

The GPhC concluded that removal of Mr Dookhan’s name from the register was an ‘appropriate and proportionate response to his convictions’, which not only ‘undermine public confidence in the profession and its reputation’ but ‘had the potential to put members of the public at risk of harm’.

Mr Dookhan is to be removed from the register from 24 June 2022 unless an appeal is lodged.

Another pharmacist was struck off earlier this year after creating bogus invoices from his pharmaceutical warehouse business and faking a cancer diagnosis, cheating a friend out of more than £500,000 so he could pay off gambling debts.