Pharmacists named in alleged fraud

St. John's pharmacists Lloyd Matthew Bennett and John Gerald Whalen have been identified as the two men facing hundreds of charges, including defrauding the province's prescription drug plan.

St. John's pharmacists Lloyd Matthew Bennett and John Gerald Whalen have been identified as the two men facing hundreds of charges, including defrauding the province's prescription drug plan.

According to court documents, the two work at the East End Pharmacy in St. John's.

Bennett, 63, and Whalen, 69, now face 231 charges in total, ranging from fraud and forgery to dispensing drugs without a prescription and failing to keep proper records. The charges had previously totalled 204.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary started an investigation in March 2008 after an audit by the provincial health department.

The pair have been disciplined for improper prescribing before, according to Newfoundland and Labrador pharmacy board documents.

In 2009, Bennett and Whalen had their  licences suspended after a hearing by the pharmacy board found they were guilty of professional misconducts, including filling prescriptions that weren't ordered by physicians or requested by patients.

In 2000, Whalen's licence was suspended for three months after NLPB hearings found he was guilty of a number of professional misconducts.

Among other things, he was sanctioned for dispensing 16 Ritalin prescriptions for a physician who had withrawn from practice.

The board said a former co-worker of Whalen's had received 1,200 Ritalin tablets from May 13, 1999 to June 22, 1999.

Pharmacy board documents said Whalen was also found guilty of "unprofessionally" obtaining long term prescriptions for himself and family members.