© — File photo by Rosie Gillingham/The Telegram
A longtime St. John’s pharmacist has been fined $500 for inappropriately dispensing drugs to patients.
In provincial court Friday, John Gerald Whalen pleaded guilty to two counts of violating the Food and Drug Act regulations for dispensing drugs without a prescription — without authorization from a doctor — and for failing to keep proper records.
The offences date back to 2004 while Whalen was working at East End Pharmacy on Mount Cashel Road.
The 71-year-old has already been disciplined by the Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Board. In March, 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.
Federal 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, Piercey said Whalen’s career is over and he now must look for other employment.
Piercey said Whalen, who has no prior criminal record, has two children whom he still supports financially.
“This is not someone selling drugs on the street,” 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 for many years and was not the owner of the pharmacy.
The judge pointed out there was no allegation of fraud, and that the drugs Whalen dispensed had previously been prescribed by doctors to the patients.
“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, Orr felt a penalty was warranted for what Whalen did.
Lloyd Matthew Bennett, the owner of East End Pharmacy, is facing fraud and trafficking charges. He’s due to appear in Newfoundland Supreme Court in September.
Bennett was also disciplined by the pharmacy board. He was ordered to pay $40,000 and had his licence suspended for five years.