AHPRA and VCAT Proceedings Involving a Pharmacist

This is a case study on AHPRA and VCAT proceedings involving a pharmacist.

What is alleged to have occured?
Our client was a pharmacist who, during a period of personal struggle, developed an addiction to schedule 8 prescription medication. He worked at various pharmacies and took the medication from the pharmacy without a prescription, and without permission or authorisation. He forged prescriptions and forged the ledger of medications in order to cover up what he had been doing.

What happened at court?
Kristina Kothrakis represented him at the Magistrates’ Court in relation to the criminal offending, where a fine was imposed without conviction. Due to the pharmacy being a heavily-regulated profession, there were also proceedings instituted by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). The Pharmacy Board also took disciplinary action against him through the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).

The Pharmacy Board and AHPRA have an overriding duty to protect the interests and safety of the community. They are required to assess the suitability of any of its practising members to determine whether they ought to be registered, and if registered, whether they require conditions to be attached to their registration. This meant that the case would mainly consist of AHPRA and VCAT proceedings involving a pharmacist.

From the time the client’s conduct was detected by the police, he took immediate steps to rehabilitate himself. He sought assistance from a psychiatrist whom he saw regularly. He also undertook some urine screens which returned a negative result.

In the submissions, Kristina drafted on the client’s behalf for AHPRA as well as for VCAT. She was able to persuasively place the offending into its proper context and emphasise the impressive rehabilitative steps the client had taken since initial apprehension. There was a benefit to having been involved from the beginning, as Kristina was intimately familiar with the factors which the magistrate relied upon when deciding not to impose a conviction. Kristina was effective in communicating the positive chronology which emerged regarding the client’s post-offence conduct.

What was the result?
VCAT had to decide in what way it would denounce the conduct. The Tribunal is required to take matters of general deterrence into account when deciding what action to take against a practitioner. In this instance, taking into account all matters put on the client’s behalf, they agreed to follow the course as submitted by Kristina and reprimanded the client. Kristina worked favourably with the board and agreed on suitable conditions which would attach to the client’s registration upon reapplication.

This was a great outcome for a case that consisted of AHPRA and VCAT proceedings involving a pharmacist. After several years of being out of his profession, the client was finally able to register with conditions which were not overly restrictive.

Elements of Forging Prescriptions and Orders for Drugs of Dependence:
  • The accused forged or attempted to forge a prescription or order for a drug of dependence; or
  • The accused fraudulently altered or attempted to fraudulently alter a prescription or order for a drug of dependence; or
  • The accused uttered or attempted to utter a prescription or order for a drug of dependence; and
  • The accused knew that the prescription or order for a drug of dependence was forged or fraudulently altered.
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Kristina KothrakisKristina Kothrakis

Kristina has significant experience in criminal trials and also holds a degree in Science, majoring in Psychology, an invaluable area of knowledge, as many of her clients suffer from psychological disorders.

Kristina strives to achieve the best possible result for all her clients. Skilled, decisive and assertive, Kristina demonstrates dedication, care and professionalism at all times.

View Kristina Kothrakis’ profile.
DISCLAIMER: This is a real case study of an actual case from our files. Details pertaining to the client have been changed to protect their privacy. The sentence imposed and the charge have not been altered. These case studies are published to demonstrate real outcomes and give an indication of possible tariffs in Court. We do not guarantee a similar case on these charges will get the same result. Please note that we post results at our discretion, therefore while many case studies are average results, others are notable for their exceptional outcomes. PUBLISHED 20/02/2019