Penticton pharmacist faces $20k fine, suspension following investigations

Joelle Mbamy manager of Penticton's Sunrise Pharmacy is facing a fine and suspension from the provincial College of Pharmacists. Google Maps

A Penticton pharmacist is facing a $20,000 fine and a three month suspension after investigations by the College of Pharmacists of B.C.

A statement posted on the professional college’s website last week said Joelle Mbamy’s “conduct demonstrated an egregious breach of trust and undermines the integrity of the profession.”

Her pharmacy has previously been in the news because an underage employee died of a methadone overdose several years ago.

Mbamy has denied any involvement in the teen’s death.

Among other problems, the professional college found methadone prescriptions had been mishandled and the teenage employee was allowed to be in the dispensary and compounding rooms without supervision.

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Click to play video: 'Penticton pharmacist denies involvement in teen overdose death'
Penticton pharmacist denies involvement in teen overdose death

The fine and suspension come after an inspection of Mbamy’s Sunrise Pharmacy in 2018 by the professional college found a host of problems.

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Among the issues the college identified were problems with the way medication was being dispensed and stored.

“(Mbamy) was dispensing medication without a prescription, using her name as a prescriber” in a way that didn’t comply with requirements for an emergency prescription refill, the college said.

The pharmacist also prepared an intravenous solution in an unsanitary, non-sterile environment, according to the college.

Click to play video: '5,600 used needles. 6 days. A Penticton pharmacy is buying back discarded needles'
5,600 used needles. 6 days. A Penticton pharmacy is buying back discarded needles

The inspection also found issues with the way methadone, expired drugs, vaccines and insulin were being stored.

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Months later, when the college investigated a complaint about the Sunrise Pharmacy, it found methadone prescriptions had been mishandled.

When the pharmacy shut down for three Saturdays in June 2019, dispensing regimes for four methadone prescriptions were changed without authorization to allow the pharmacy to be closed, the college said.

Mbamy also dispensed methadone following a prescription that she’d altered herself and didn’t get corrected by a doctor, according to the college.

The college’s Oct. 26 statement also sheds more light on the death of a teenage employee of Sunrise Pharmacy.

Security camera footage from the pharmacy showed the teen was improperly allowed to be in the dispensary and compounding rooms at the pharmacy in September 2017 without supervision, giving the teen access to prescription medications.

However, the college said there is “no evidence on the security footage to confirm that the minor obtained the methadone from the pharmacy.”

Previously, in a court document, Mbamy’s lawyer said neither she nor the pharmacy had anything to do with the teen’s death and that an RCMP investigation had “conclusively determined…Ms. Mbamy was in no way involved.”

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The court document also asserts that Mbamy never breached any ethical or legal obligations in the way she dispensed medication.

However, the professional college’s statement said the pharmacist has admitted or acknowledged the issues identified by the college.

As a result of the college’s investigations, on Oct. 26 a committee of the college ordered Mbamy pay a $20,000 fine to the college, be suspended for three months and complete training.

The order also limits Mbamy’s scope of practice until she completes various training programs.

The college said no start date for Mbamy’s suspension has been set.

Global News reached out to Sunrise Pharmacy to ask Mbamy for comment.

The phone call ended abruptly after the reporter identified themselves as a representative of Global Okanagan.

— with files from Shelby Thom

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