02 Jul 2019
A pharmacist convicted of drug theft was reprimanded and had her provisional registration cancelled by a tribunal for professional misconduct.
Ms Sara Kazeme, a provisionally registered pharmacist, was convicted in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria in November 2016 for theft and attempted theft of prescription only medicines as well as other pharmaceutical items.
The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (the tribunal) made a finding of professional misconduct against Ms Kazeme in November 2018, cancelled her registration and disqualified her from reapplying for registration for 24 months. She was also reprimanded.
The tribunal made it clear that Ms Kazeme’s actions were inconsistent with her being a fit and proper person to hold registration in the pharmacy profession. It referred to the particular level of trust that the community places in pharmacists and found that Ms Kazeme’s actions had breached this trust.
In cancelling Ms Kazeme’s registration and disqualifying her from reapplying for a minimum period of 24 months, the tribunal said it was important to send a message to the profession that it operates within a regulated environment for the paramount purpose of protecting the public.
Pharmacy Board of Australia Chair Brett Simmonds highlighted the significance of the tribunal’s decision.
‘The Board welcomes the tribunal’s decision and its emphasis on the importance of the trust that the community places in pharmacists to protect and control access to both prescription and non-prescription pharmaceutical drugs and products.’
The Board received a notification in mid-2015 from Ms Kazeme’s employer, a registered pharmacist and her approved preceptor, about the theft and attempted theft of drugs. Ms Kazeme had started work as a provisionally registered pharmacist in January 2014.
In early-2016, the Pharmacy Council of New South Wales1 informed the Board that Ms Kazeme’s provisional registration had been suspended by immediate action for unrelated conduct, connected to her role with a business in NSW which provided infusions of vitamins and other medicines.
Soon after, Victoria Police notified the Board that Ms Kazeme had been charged with offences relating to the misappropriation of drugs and other pharmacy items.
The Board’s allegations to the tribunal of Ms Kazeme’s professional misconduct were based on the convictions for the theft and attempted theft of both prescription and non-prescription medications and pharmaceutical items, which included vials of drugs commonly misused for image enhancing purposes, such as human growth hormone, as well as pharmacist only strength topical solutions.
Ms Kazeme pleaded guilty to a charge of 83 instances of theft and of one charge of attempted theft of the image enhancing drugs and was convicted in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria on 23 November 2016. The thefts occurred between 13 February 2014 and 24 June 2015.
Ms Kazeme accepted the Board’s allegations that she had packaged the items at the pharmacy and created false orders in various names to send the packages to addresses associated with either herself or family and friends, both locally and interstate. Neither Ms Kazeme nor the recipients of the packages had prescriptions for the items, and they risked using the stolen pharmaceutical items without direction or warnings.
The full tribunal decision can be found on the tribunal website.
1Co-regulation exists in NSW where investigations into the professional conduct, performance or health of registered health practitioners is carried out by the Health Professional Councils Authority and the Health Care Complaints Commission.