A Salmon Arm pharmacist agreed to a $25,000 and a one-year suspension following an investigation by a College of Pharmacists of B.C. Inquiry Committee. The committee considered allegations that a former Shuswap Lake General Hospital pharmacist had colluded with a local pharmacy owner in the sale of misappropriated medications. (File photo)

Salmon Arm pharmacist fined, suspended for involvement in drug sales scheme

Pharmacy owner agrees to $25,000 fine, complete ethics course for health-care professionals

A Salmon Arm pharmacist who Interior Health alleged was part of a conspiracy involving the sale of misappropriated medications was fined $25,000 and suspended for one year.

Following an investigation, a College of Pharmacists of B.C. inquiry committee determined that between 2011 and 2018, Laurent Roy, owner of Remedy’s RX in Salmon Arm, had purchased pharmacy supplies from a hospital employee who allegedly diverted those supplies from hospital inventory. In its Aug. 24 decision, the committee noted evidence suggested Roy was aware the supplies had been diverted, and that some of the cash he’d paid for the supplies had been diverted from hospital accounts.

In its written decision, the committee stated Roy had repeatedly made purchases from the hospital employee over a prolonged period, and was likely aware of the nature of the supplies he was purchasing.

The committee determined Roy’s “decision to continue making purchases was likely based on financial gain, and this indicated a pattern of poor judgment.”

“His actions were a serious contravention of standards in the Code of Ethics and compromised the public’s trust in the pharmacy profession,” stated the committee in its decision, noting serious remediation was required to protect the public and “send a clear message of deterrence to the profession.”

Roy entered into a consent agreement with the committee that included the following terms:

• Pay a fine of $25,000;

• Suspend his registration as a pharmacist for a total of 365 days, from Aug. 24, 2020 to Aug. 24, 2021;

• To not be pharmacy manager, director or officer of a pharmacy for a period of three years from Aug. 25, 2021 to Aug. 24, 2024.

Read more: Interior Health suing former Shuswap hospital employee, pharmacist for alleged drug sales scheme

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Roy was also required to complete and pass an ethics course for health-care professionals, and a College of Pharmacists of B.C. jurisprudence exam, and would have a letter of reprimand placed on his registration with the college indefinitely.

The allegations against Roy were included in a civil claim filed by Interior Health with the B.C. Supreme Court in Salmon Arm on June 19, 2020. In the claim, the health authority alleged that between 2004 and 2018, Ian Petterson, a former pharmacist at Shuswap Lake General Hospital, had conspired in unlawful conduct with Roy.

In the notice of claim, IH stated between 1994 and 2018, Petterson was employed by the health authority as a staff pharmacist, responsible for the ordering and dispensing of medication, as well as receiving inventory, pricing and storing medications and other products at the pharmacy. In 2016, Petterson was promoted to manager of pharmacy services.

IH claimed that around December, 2004, Petterson began “wrongfully manipulating” pharmacy transactions for medication sales to Remedy’s. IH alleged Petterson removed medication from the pharmacy inventory without invoicing it, and then sold it to Remedy’s for cash which he kept.

IH also claimed Petterson was manipulating transactions in the pharmacy record system, disposed of invoices from Remedy’s and personally delivered medication to Remedy’s and Roy. This continued after Jan. 29, 2012, when the B.C. Provincial Health Services Authority notified pharmacies that Interior Health would no longer supply medication to businesses unless for emergency need.

IH alleged Roy communicated with Petterson directly to order pharmacy medication, paid Petterson in cash for medication sold at below market prices and manipulated Remedy’s inventory system to conceal medications purchased from Petterson.

IH stated an internal investigation leading to Petterson’s termination in October 2018 was initiated in September of that year after an employee at Remedy’s reported seeing a bag of cash labeled “SLGH $500,” which Roy had told another employee would be picked up by Petterson.

None of the allegations by Interior Health in the notice of claim have been proven in court.

Interior Health was seeking compensation for loss of revenue and damages from Petterson and Roy.

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