Diversion of drugs is not tolerated

November 28, 2018

A recent Hearing Tribunal issued its written decision about the conduct of a pharmacy technician who was found to have diverted large quantities of drugs including oxycodone and hydromorphone. The technician admitted, and the Tribunal agreed, that the drugs diverted by the technician were provided to another individual, believed to be associated with a criminal element. The Tribunal found the technician abused her position of trust by manipulating the pharmacy inventory records and ordering system to conceal her diversions. By doing so, the Hearing Tribunal found that the technician breached the most fundamental elements of trust, integrity, and professionalism.

In this matter the Tribunal imposed the most significant penalty permitted under the Health Professions Act: cancellation. It also imposed costs of the investigation and hearing to a maximum of $20,000.

Additionally, the pharmacy technician was sentenced criminally by the Court to two years of house arrest, 250 hours of community service, and a $5,000 fine.

Rationale for the  decision, is reflected in the following statements from the Tribunal’s decision:

[The pharmacy technician’s] conduct was extremely serious. The medications she diverted are powerful and dangerous in any quantity, let alone the unprecedented quantities that she obtained and diverted onto the streets.  Pharmacy professionals represent a line of defence to the opioid crisis but [the pharmacy technician’s] conduct seriously undermined that line of defence.  Her conduct breached the public’s trust in the profession of pharmacy and harmed its integrity. 

Pharmacy professionals – review your ethical duties to your patients, our profession, and yourself

  1. Review your professional responsibilities and ethical duties. Principles 1, 10, and 11 of the Code of Ethics will provide you with valuable guidance in this respect.
  2. Understand that the diversion of drugs cannot and will not be tolerated by the profession. Your decision to participate in these activities may result in the most serious sanctions available to be imposed.
  3. Do not allow your personal circumstances to negatively affect your professional obligations.
  4. Seek help at the earliest opportunity. Many employers offer an employee assistance program and there are many other assessment and support services offered through Alberta Health Services and for members of the Alberta Pharmacists’ Association.
  5. Take yourself out of practice when you are not fit to practise.

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