DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH, SOCIAL SERVICES AND PUBLIC SAFETY

27 April, 2015

A pharmacist was sentenced today to 12 months imprisonment for the illegal supply of prescription medicines, including a range of controlled drugs, from his Armagh pharmacy.

Maurice Currie, 46, of Portmore Road, Lisburn, appeared at Newry Crown Court having previously pleaded guilty to illegally supplying large quantities of medicines, assessed at 875,000 tablets, over a five year period between January 2009 and September 2013. The drugs illegally supplied from the defendant’s Armagh pharmacy included diazepam, tramadol, dihydrocodeine and oxynorm. Currie received 12 months imprisonment on each of twelve charges, to run concurrently.

The conviction followed an investigation undertaken by the Department of Health’s Medicines Regulatory Group (MRG). The officer in charge of the investigation, Mr Peter Moore, said: “Today’s conviction and sentence makes it clear that those prepared to get involved in the illegal supply of dangerous drugs, no matter who they are or what position they might hold, will be brought before the courts. In the interests of public safety, illegal drugs supply in any guise cannot be tolerated.

“This is the most serious diversion of medicines by a professional that MRG has investigated, and this conviction and sentence clearly demonstrates our determination to combat this kind of illegal activity.”

“Following today’s conviction, full details of the investigation will be forwarded to the Pharmaceutical Society, the regulatory body responsible for the professional conduct of pharmacists in Northern Ireland.

“We would ask the public to report to the Medicines Regulatory Group or the Police any incidences where they have been offered any medicines from an unregulated source.”

Professor Mike Mawhinney, Head of the Medicines Regulatory Group added: “I would urge the public to be vigilant and ensure that they do not put their health at risk by purchasing medication from any illicit source.

“It is also important to stress that this diversion was the result of the actions of a rogue pharmacist determined to break the law. The public can be assured that the vast majority of pharmacists in Northern Ireland continue to provide the public with an essential service in an honest and exceptionally professional manner.”

Notes to editors:

Maurice Curriewas charged as follows:-

1. That you on a date between the 14th day of August 2012 and the 31st day of December 2013 in the County Court Division of Aramgh and South Down, or elsewhere within the jurisdiction of the Crown Court of Northern Ireland, did supply a prescription only medicine namely 59,477 Tramadol 50mg capsules, except in accordance with a prescription given by an appropriate practitioner, contrary to Regulation 214 of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012.

2. That you on a date between the 1st day of January 2009 and the 31st day of December 2013 in the County Court Division of Armagh and South Down or elsewhere within the jurisdiction of the Crown Court of Northern Ireland unlawfully supplied to another a controlled drug of Class C of Schedule 2 to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 namely, 152,640 tablets of Diazepam 5mg, in contravention of section 4(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, contrary to Section 4(3)(a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

3. That you on a date between the 1st day of January 2009 and the 31st day of December 2013 in the County Court Division of Armagh and South Down or elsewhere within the jurisdiction of the Crown Court of Northern Ireland unlawfully supplied to another a controlled drug of Class C of Schedule 2 to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 namely, 14,364 tablets of Diazepam 2mg, in contravention of section 4(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, contrary to Section 4(3)(a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

4. That you on a date between the 14th day of August 2012 and the 31st day of December 2013 in the County Court Division of Armagh and South Down or elsewhere within the jurisdiction of the Crown Court of Northern Ireland , did supply a prescription only medicine namely 24,622 tablets of Zopiclone 7.5mg, except in accordance with a prescription given by an appropriate practitioner, contrary to Regulation 214 of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012.

5. That you on a date between the 1st day of January 2009 and the 31st day of December 2013 in the County Court Division of Armagh and South Down or elsewhere within the jurisdiction of the Crown Court of Northern Ireland unlawfully supplied to another a controlled drug of Class C of Schedule 2 to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 namely, 100,650 tablets of Zolpidem 10mg, in contravention of section 4(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, contrary to Section 4(3)(a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

6. That you on a date between the 1st day of January 2009 and the 31st day of December 2013 in the County Court Division of Armagh and South Down or elsewhere within the jurisdiction of the Crown Court of Northern Ireland , unlawfully supplied a controlled drug of Class B namely, 243,600 tablets of Co-codamol 30/500, to another in contravention of section 4(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act, contrary to section 4(3)(a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

7. That you on a date between the 1st day of January 2009 and the 31st day of December 2013 in the County Court Division of Armagh and South Down or elsewhere within the jurisdiction of the Crown Court of Northern Ireland , unlawfully supplied a controlled drug of Class B namely, 137,064 tablets of Dihydrocodeine 30mg, to another in contravention of section 4(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act, contrary to section 4(3)(a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

8. That you on a date between the 1st day of January 2009 and the 31st day of December 2013 in the County Court Division of Armagh and South Down or elsewhere within the jurisdiction of the Crown Court of Northern Ireland unlawfully supplied to another a controlled drug of Class C of Schedule 2 to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 namely, 29,197 tablets of Temazapam 10mg, in contravention of section 4(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, contrary to Section 4(3)(a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

9. That you on a date between the 1st day of January 2009 and the 31st day of December 2013 in the County Court Division of Armagh and South Down or elsewhere within the jurisdiction of the Crown Court of Northern Ireland , unlawfully supplied a controlled drug of Class A namely, Sevredol, to another in contravention of section 4(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, contrary to section 4(3)(a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

10. That you on a date between the 1st day of January 2009 and the 31st day of December 2013 in the County Court Division of Armagh and South Down or elsewhere within the jurisdiction of the Crown Court of Northern Ireland , unlawfully supplied a controlled drug of Class A namely, Oxynorm, to another in contravention of section 4(1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, contrary to section 4(3)(a) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

11. That you on a date between the 1st day of January 2009 and the 13th day of August 2012 in the County Court Division of Armagh and South Down or elsewhere within the jurisdiction of the Crown Court of Northern Ireland, did sell by retail, or supply in circumstances corresponding to retail sale, a medicinal product namely 85,626 Tramadol 50mg capsules or thereabouts, except in accordance with a prescription given by an appropriate practitioner; contrary to section 58(2) of the Medicines Act 1968.

12. That you on a date between the 1st day of January 2009 and the 13th day of August 2012 in the County Court Division of Armagh and South Down or elsewhere within the jurisdiction of the Crown Court of Northern Ireland, did sell by retail, or supply in circumstances corresponding to retail sale, a medicinal product namely 28,024 Zopiclone 7.5mg or thereabouts except in accordance with a prescription given by an appropriate practitioner; contrary to section 58(2) of the Medicines Act 1968.

Description /uses of medicines

(a) Sevredol contains morphine sulphate and is an opioid analgesic used for severe pain. It is classed as a Prescription Only Medicine (POM) and is included in Class A to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and in Schedule 2 to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002.

(b) Oxynorm contains oxycodone hydrochloride and is an opioid analgesic used for severe pain. It is classed as a POM and is included in Class A to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and in Schedule 2 to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002.

(c) Tramadol is an analgesic used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is classed as a POM and is included in Class C to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and in Schedule 3 to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002.

(d) Diazepam is a benzodiazepine and is used to treat a range of conditions including anxiety. It is classed as a POM and is included in Class C to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and in Schedule 4 Part I to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002.

(e) Zolpidem is a non-benzodiazepine hypnotic (sleeping) preparation. It is classed as a POM and is included in Class C to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and in Schedule 4 Part I to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002.

(f) Zopiclone is a non-benzodiazepine hypnotic (sleeping) preparation. It is classed as a POM and is included in Class C to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and in Schedule 4 Part I to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002.

(g) Co-Codamol is an analgesic which contains a mixture of codeine and paracetamol. It is classed as a POM and is included in Class B to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and in Schedule 5 to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002.

(h) Temazepam is a benzodiazepine hypnotic (sleeping) preparation. It is classed as a POM and is included in Class C to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and in Schedule 3 to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002.

(i) Dihydrocodeine is an analgesic used for moderate pain. It is classed as a POM and is included in Class B to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and in Schedule 5 to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002.

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