Singapore

Pharmacist jailed for illegally selling cough syrup

A pharmacist who unlawfully sold codeine-based cough syrup for about a decade was jailed for eight months and three weeks yesterday.

William Woo Tat Meng, 58, of Community Pharmacy in Bukit Timah Plaza, is the first pharmacist to be found guilty of the crime under the Poisons Act.

He sold about 20,440 bottles containing 2,452.8 litres of Dhasedyl syrup to customers without recording their details between May 7, 2013, and April 23, 2015.

Woo made a profit in the range of $244,529 to $285,409. He also falsified his company records to cover his tracks.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to three out of four charges, including two for providing false information to a Health Sciences Authority (HSA) officer.

A district court heard that HSA started probing Community Pharmacy on March 26, 2015, upon realising that the pharmacy had been ordering large quantities of Dhasedyl syrup.

On April 10 last year when HSA carried out an audit at the pharmacy, Woo gave a dispensing ledger dated Feb 2015 to April 2015, which had been falsified.

The records wrongly showed that he did not prescribe more than 240ml of cough mixture containing codeine to each customer on each occasion.

During the audit, an HSA officer spotted six cartons of Dhasedyl syrup in Woo's office. He lied that he had ordered more of the medicine because his supplier was increasing his price.

On April 23 last year, HSA officers stopped a man who had just left the pharmacy. The man had 14 bottles, each containing 120ml of Dhasedyl syrup. He had paid $20 for each bottle, and Woo did not ask for his particulars.

Woo later admitted that he had been selling Dhasedyl syrup for about 10 years.

Pharmacists are not allowed to sell more than 240ml of codeine cough syrup to a customer each time. Pharmacists who sell codeine cough syrup have to record the name and identity card number of the customer and the quantity sold.

- The Straits Times

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