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Pharmacy technician’s registration cancelled

March 18, 2020
Lessons Learned: Diversion of drugs and failing to cooperate with an investigation are not tolerated.

A recent Hearing Tribunal issued its written decisions on the merit and orders regarding the conduct of a pharmacy technician who was found to have diverted large quantities of fentanyl patches for his personal use and then failed to cooperate with the Alberta College of Pharmacy’s (the College) investigation and complaints processes. The Tribunal found the pharmacy technician abused his position of trust by manipulating pharmacy records to facilitate and conceal his diversions. In doing so, the Hearing Tribunal found that the pharmacy technician breached the most fundamental elements of trust, integrity, and professionalism.

In this matter, the Tribunal imposed the most significant penalties permitted under the Health Professions Act:

  • cancellation,
  • an order prohibiting the pharmacy technician from being an owner or proprietor of a pharmacy, and
  • full costs of the investigation and hearing (estimated to be approximately $22,500).

Also, the Hearing Tribunal noted the pharmacy technician was subject to a parallel criminal proceeding arising from the same conduct and he received a criminal sentence of 90 days incarceration, a $2,900 restitution order, and two years of probation.

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

While his diversion of drugs may have been related to an addiction, his conduct went well beyond drug diversion and included his failure to cooperate with the College. His overall conduct was incompatible with continuing as a regulated member of the College.

Trust, honesty and integrity are critical attributes of the profession of pharmacy technicians. [The pharmacy technician] has shown a lack of respect and trust for the profession. The College and the pharmacy owner placed [The pharmacy technician] in a position of trust and the trust was abused.    

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians – review your ethical duties to your profession and yourself

  1. Review your professional responsibilities and ethical duties. Principles 10 and 11 of the Code of Ethics will provide you with valuable guidance in this respect.
  2. Do not allow your personal circumstances to negatively affect your professional obligations.
  3. 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 may be available for members of professional advocacy organizations.
  4. Be conscious about your personal circumstances and remove yourself from practice immediately when you determine that you may be unfit for practice.

Understand that a failure or refusal to cooperate with an investigator or failing to participate with the complaints process may be considered unprofessional conduct and may result in severe sanctions. If a registrant’s actions demonstrate that they may not be governable, then it may be determined that they should not remain in the profession.