Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist January 2014 Contents Australian Pharmacist January 2014 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
One is tempted to think that would be the
end of the story. Wrong. For some, this is
where it could all begin. The epiphany of
uncovering a highly sophisticated criminal
network could well be only the beginning.
The first and most important issue is the
dilemma of whether to report or not
Reporting to authorities often involves
some hassle. Many will tell you it is time
consuming, and often police cannot or
will not attend in a timely manner, making
for a difficult and awkward wait. There is a
perceived risk that reporting the discovery
could render the pharmacy a target for
vengeful reactions from the syndicate.
And if all goes well and police turn up in
good time, there may be a scene in the
pharmacy -- a kerfuffle and an arrest?
There is also the chance that evidence
will be subpoenaed and the pharmacist
questioned in court (depending on the
details of the fraud). And there will always
be someone to tell the pharmacist there
is little to gain from the hassle. Hearsay
is rife. It is no easy decision to make.
The pressure not to report is often strongly
expressed by pharmacy staff, pharmacy
owners and/or even family members.
The pharmacist relaying this story
reflected on how she had to make the
decision under much pressure not to
report from her husband who happened
to be there, and staff -- all within a very
tight timeframe. She didn't have the
luxury of going through an elaborate
decision making process. She had to report
within seconds/minutes or hold her silence.
To her credit, the pharmacist followed her
sense of social responsibility and duty to
uphold the reputation of the profession.
She made the call.
As it turns out, the police arrived within
20 minutes, in civil dress and moved
discretely towards the client, who was
obliviously still waiting for the medicine.
With no fuss or noise they surrounded the
man in question, moved him away towards
the front door and placed him under
arrest with hardly anyone in the pharmacy
noticing. Then after little more than picking
up the prescription in question, the police
withdrew quietly. The pharmacist was later
informed that her reporting helped unravel
the crime, and imprison the 'patient' and
'doctor' for their role in the fraud which had
been going on for many months. There were
no repercussions in terms of safety for the
pharmacy and staff.
The Code of Ethics for Pharmacists
specifically supports this action, and there
is no doubt the outcome was a good one,
reaching way beyond the boundaries of
the pharmacy. Pharmacists can and should
be good citizens, with little more to be
concerned about than a simple phone call.
If this ever happens to you, please ignore
the hype and do your best for the profession
and society at large. Make that call!
Dr Betty Chaar is a Senior Lecturer in Pharmacy
Practice and Professional Ethics at the Faculty of
Pharmacy, the University of Sydney.
To call or not
DR BETTY CHAAR, MPS
I recently heard an interesting
story from a pharmacist; one I am
sure most pharmacists experience
in one way or another during
Apparently there is a new, quite sinister
method of fraud emerging, for the
purposes of drug abuse and trafficking.
The 'client' presented with a legal-looking
e-prescription for oxycodone.
The prescription ticked all the regulatory
boxes, including the provider number of
a legitimate prescriber. When asked who
the medicine was for, the client confirmed
it was for himself. He did not appear to
be in pain, but the pharmacist could not
make a conclusive judgement on this,
as he could have taken some pain relief
before attending the pharmacy. The client
did not have a dispensary history at
When the pharmacist called the doctor
to verify the prescription, the 'doctor'
readily assured the pharmacist about
having seen the patient and confirmed
the need and nature of the prescription
for chronic back pain. Ostensibly nothing
However, despite all the reassuring
appearances, this experienced pharmacist
did not feel comfortable supplying
the opioid. Some niggly gut-feeling
made her wary. She stalled the client,
asking him to come back in 10 minutes
and called the 'doctor' again. This time
though, she gave the doctor a totally
different (imaginative) name. The 'doctor'
gave the pharmacist the exact same
spiel -- assuring her of having seen the
patient and that the patient needed the
oxycodone for chronic back pain relief.
Eureka! Fraud incredulously uncovered.
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