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Penticton pharmacist denies involvement in teen overdose death

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Penticton pharmacist denies involvement in teen overdose death – Sep 5, 2019

A Penticton pharmacist is denying any involvement in the death of a teenage employee who passed away from a suspected drug overdose almost two years ago.

The details have come to light in a petition filed in BC Supreme Court by Joelle Mbamy, owner of Sunrise Pharmacy, against the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia.

In June, the College’s inquiry committee ordered Mbamy to stop dispensing any narcotic or controlled drug substance intended for Opioid Agonist Treatment, including methadone.

Mbamy was also restricted from preparing or dispensing any medication intended for intravenous drug use, pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing.

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The college alleged in a notice on its website that Mbamy provided Opioid Agonist Treatment without abiding by the legislative requirements and prepared intravenous drug product under unsanitary conditions, although it remained tight lipped about the specific allegations.

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Mbamy filed the court petition in a failed attempt to quash the College’s restrictions placed on her pharmacy, claiming 80 per cent of her income comes from the distribution of methadone.

READ MORE: B.C. College of Pharmacists issues order against Penticton pharmacy

“She and her daughter will suffer significant financial difficulty if the order is not immediately lifted,” her lawyer said in the petition obtained by Global News.

The court documents also reveal that the college believes a 14-year-old pharmacy employee died in September 2017 “as a result of narcotics use” and that he obtained the methadone “from Sunrise Pharmacy prior to this death.”

The College of Pharmacists of British Columbia has issued an order against the pharmacy practice of Joelle Mbamy. The order is pending a hearing. Google Maps

The petition said the findings are based, in part, on an inspection of the pharmacy in November 2018, more than one year after the employee’s death.

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Inspectors found a one-litre bottle of methadone in an unlocked cabinet, according to the court documents, which also claims the teen’s death was “thoroughly investigated and it has been conclusively determined by the RCMP that Ms. Mbamy was in no way involved.”

Mbamy, 56, is originally from Cameroon. She trained as a pharmacist in Belgium before registering in B.C. in 1997.

The petition notes Mbamy has been the subject of previous complaints, including a needle buy-back exchange program, dispensing medication without a prescription, inaccurate PharmaNet record-keeping and practicing without a licence.

In 2018, Mbamy was fined $1,000 and is prohibited from owning animals for a decade after pleading guilty to an animal cruelty charge involving the neglect of her dogs.

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Mbamy, whose first language is French, said investigators with the regulatory agency did not ask if she needed assistance in the French language or if she would like to retain legal counsel.

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“The information she provided to the committee was incomplete and a more fulsome explanation from her is necessary,” the petition said.

Mbamy said the pharmacy generates $30,000 in sales per month and those sales will fall by at least 80 per cent as a result of the restrictions placed upon her.

READ MORE: Penticton woman charged with animal cruelty

Her lawyer said the restrictions “will have severe and drastic consequences on her ability to operate the pharmacy.”

Despite those claims, Sunrise Pharmacy was open for business on Tuesday.

Court records show Mbamy’s petition was unsuccessful and adjourned by a judge in Kelowna.

As of Tuesday, the college’s website showed the limits and restrictions placed on Mbamy are still in effect.

A disciplinary hearing has not been scheduled.

Global Okanagan has reached out to Mbamy and the college for comment. None of the allegations have been proven in court.

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