Pharmacist who traded prescription pills for cocaine is struck off

Michelle McPeake stole prescription drugs worth around �25,000
Michelle McPeake stole prescription drugs worth around �25,000
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A pharmacist who stole £25,000 worth of prescription medication for a drug dealer in return for cocaine has been struck off the professional register.

The sanction was imposed on Michelle McPeake, 33, for supplying more than 32,000 pills taken from her employer in Belfast.

McPeake, from the west of the city, is currently serving a prison sentence imposed after she admitted the offences.

A Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland disciplinary committee has now ruled that she is no longer fit to practice.

Following a hearing in Belfast the panel’s chairman, solicitor Conor Heaney, described her misconduct as “deplorable”.

In a newly published judgment he said: “The registrant acted in a reprehensible manner. She fundamentally subverted the role of the professional pharmacist.”

McPeake was arrested outside a north Belfast chemist in March 2016 as part of a police investigation.

Over an 11-month period she stole a total of 32,358 tablets worth approximately £25,000 from her employer, according to an agreed statement of facts.

The thefts involved quantities of pregabalin, dihydrocodeine, diazepam and tramadol.

She gave the medication to a man who was able to supply it on to the general public.

In return McPeake accepted obtaining and consuming cocaine throughout this period while employed as a registered pharmacist.

Earlier this year she pleaded guilty to 13 offences, including theft, possessing and supplying controlled drugs and having a medicinal product with intent to supply.

She was given a two-year sentence at Belfast Crown Court, half to be served in jail and the rest on licence.

The society’s disciplinary committee found that she had breached the trust placed in her by her employer and the profession, falling far below the standards to be expected of a registered pharmacist.

“It was a very serious matter indeed for a registered pharmacist, charged with upholding the law and safeguarding patients in her care, to obtain and consume an illicit substance,” Mr Heaney said.

With a suspension order deemed inappropriate and inadequate for protecting the public, an order was made to strike McPeake off the register.

Mr Heaney added: “To impose any lesser sanction would undermine trust and confidence in the profession of pharmacy and the society in its regulatory function.”