Pharmacist fined for inappropriate drug dispensing

Rosie Mullaley rmullaley@thetelegram.com
Published on June 14, 2013
Pharmacists Lloyd Matthew Bennett (left) and John Gerald Whalen
— 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 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.