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Pharmacist who supplied £1m of prescription drugs to black market is struck off  


By Isabel Shaw

11 Nov 2021

A Birmingham pharmacist has been removed from the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) register for supplying over an estimated £1 million worth of prescription drugs on the black market.  

Balkeet Singh Khaira — registration number 2069004 —  aged 37, of Sutton Drive, Sutton Coldfield, was sentenced on 2 March to 12 months in prison for diverting a significant amount of five different types of Class C drugs onto the black market, the GPhC fitness-to-practise committee heard at a hearing on 11 October.  

The regulator heard that Mr Khaira – who was not present at the hearing – pleaded guilty before Birmingham Crown Court and that he had faced no other disciplinary action previously.  

Mr Khaira had first used his position as a pharmacist to order large quantities of prescription only medicines and controlled drugs and sell them onto criminal gangs. 

The pharmacist was found to have diverted 29,000 packs of Diazepam, Nitrazepam, Tramadol, Zolpidem and Zopiclone from the safe supply chain while working for his mother’s pharmacy business — Khaira Pharmacy in West Bromwich, Birmingham.  

The regulator heard that Mr Khaira had later pretended to be his mother in emails to the medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency (MHRA) to try and make the investigation ‘go away’. 

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

Mr Kharia admitted to his crimes when he was interviewed by police in February 2018. He told them he was ‘under duress’ from another employee and former friend who was working with criminal gangs to sell the medicines.   

He told the court the gang had threatened violence towards him and his family. As a result of this, he used the pharmacy to supply the drugs.

He admitted that he had personally made over £59,000 from the illegal sale of Class C drugs. 

The offences took place between February 2016 and August 2017.  

GPhC conclusion 

During the fitness to practise committee principal hearing last month (13 October), the regulator found Mr Khaira’s illegal behaviour to be ‘so serious as to bring the profession into disrepute’.  

It also said that this incident was ‘not a minor conviction for a matter unrelated to the profession.  

‘This conviction involved the blatant abuse of the privileged position of a pharmacist to divert a large number of controlled drugs, thereby placing the public at risk.’  

The regulator also questioned Mr Khaira’s integrity in relation to his absence at the hearing.  

‘[The] registrant showed a striking lack of integrity and, in the absence of information, reflection or submissions from him there is no material before the committee to suggest that things have moved on, that he has developed insight into his misconduct and that his integrity can now be relied upon.  

‘At this time, therefore, his integrity cannot be relied upon,’ they added. 

The GPhC concluded that Mr Khaira’s fitness to practise as a pharmacist was ‘currently’ impaired on grounds of ‘public protection and in the wider public interest of declaring and upholding standards and maintaining public confidence in the profession’. 

Mr Khaira is to be removed from the register from tomorrow (11 November) unless an appeal is lodged. 

In March, when the case was first announced, 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 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.’ 

Read the full GPhC determination here

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