Pharmacist fined for inappropriate drug dispensing

Rosie Mullaley
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Pharmacists Lloyd Matthew Bennett (left) and John Gerald Whalen are shown in court in this Telegram file photo.

A longtime St. John's pharmacist has been fined $500 for inappropriately dispensing drugs to patients.

In provincial court today, John Gerald Whalen pleaded to two counts of violating the Food and Drug Act regulations for dispensing drugs without a prescription and without the authorization of a doctor. The offences date back to 2004 while working at East End Pharmacy on Mount Cashel Road.

The 71-year-old has already been disciplined by the Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Board. He was fined $20,000 by the board and had his licence suspended for three years. The board also ruled he must reapply for his licence at the end of the three-year suspension.

Prosecutor John Brooks said in light of the penalty already imposed by the board against Whalen, the Crown would be satisfied with a fine in the lower range.

Under the Act, the maximum Whalen could have been fined was $500 for each count.

Whalen's  lawyer, Randy Piercey told Judge David Orr that Whalen has been a pharmacist for 47 years. As a result of what happened, he said his career is over and he now must look for other employment. Piercey said Whalen, who has no prior criminal record, has two children who he still supports financially.

"This is not someone selling drugs on the steet," Piercey said. "This is someone who breached regulations."

Orr opted to fine Whalen $250 for each of the two counts. He noted Whalen was employed at the pharmacy and was not the owner. He said there was no allegations of fraud and that the drugs he dispensed had been prescribed to the patients in the past.

"This is not a situation in which the accused was providing people with dangerous drugs to which they are not entitled," the judge said.

However, he felt a penalty was warranted for what he did.

Lloyd Matthew Bennett, owner of East End Pharmacy, is facing fraud and trafficking charges. He's due to appear in Newfoundland Supreme Court in September.

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Board

Geographic location: St. John's

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Recent comments

  • Excessive
    June 14, 2013 - 19:29

    The actions of the pharmacy board in this case, as well as this man having to go to court to have his reputation ruined, is way over the top for the nature of his actions. What he did can only be seen as a lapse in judgement, and in my mind, is far less than the doctor in another news story today who sent sext messages to his lover while getting ready for surgery. In that case, the medical society turned a blind eye and the case in court was dismissed. Both cases are at the same level of misjudgement IMHO. If he were passing out opiates without a prescription, or stealing them from the pharmacy and selling them on the street, that would be an entirely different matter. The justice system just doesn't make sense to me. I shake my head almost every time I read a court decision story..the judge's decisions are either way too lenient or way too excessive for the nature of the crime.

  • Eli
    June 14, 2013 - 12:27

    Not to much detail here but I can say I've made numerous unnecessary visits to my doctor for Rx renewals and that's all he did, sit at his desk, scratch out the same Rx, and it's "next patient please". Not so much as a blood pressure test.

  • Dee
    June 14, 2013 - 11:55

    Now he can sit back and enjoy his Old Age and Hospital pension

  • david
    June 14, 2013 - 11:49

    Professional misconduct in a very , VERY important responsibility. Firing offense in the rest of Canada, nothing less would even be entertained. So-called "Professionals" here are all working in "Consequence-free Ville".

    • Manfromuncle
      June 14, 2013 - 15:00

      Where did you come up with this gem from S'murph?