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Armagh pharmacist sentenced to 12 months behind bars

A pharmacist was sentenced today to 12 months imprisonment for the illegal supply of prescription medicines, including a range of controlled drugs, from his Armagh pharmacy.

Maurice Currie, 46, of Portmore Road, Lisburn, appeared at Newry Crown Court having previously pleaded guilty to illegally supplying large quantities of medicines, assessed at 875,000 tablets, over a five year period between January 2009 and September 2013. The drugs illegally supplied from the defendant’s Armagh pharmacy included diazepam, tramadol, dihydrocodeine and oxynorm. Currie received 12 months imprisonment on each of twelve charges, to run concurrently.

The conviction followed an investigation undertaken by the Department of Health’s Medicines Regulatory Group (MRG). The officer in charge of the investigation, Mr Peter Moore, said: “Today’s conviction and sentence makes it clear that those prepared to get involved in the illegal supply of dangerous drugs, no matter who they are or what position they might hold, will be brought before the courts. In the interests of public safety, illegal drugs supply in any guise cannot be tolerated.

“This is the most serious diversion of medicines by a professional that MRG has investigated, and this conviction and sentence clearly demonstrates our determination to combat this kind of illegal activity.”

“Following today’s conviction, full details of the investigation will be forwarded to the Pharmaceutical Society, the regulatory body responsible for the professional conduct of pharmacists in Northern Ireland.

“We would ask the public to report to the Medicines Regulatory Group or the Police any incidences where they have been offered any medicines from an unregulated source.”

Professor Mike Mawhinney, Head of the Medicines Regulatory Group added: “I would urge the public to be vigilant and ensure that they do not put their health at risk by purchasing medication from any illicit source.

“It is also important to stress that this diversion was the result of the actions of a rogue pharmacist determined to break the law. The public can be assured that the vast majority of pharmacists in Northern Ireland continue to provide the public with an essential service in an honest and exceptionally professional manner.”

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