Hamilton pharmacist charged with handing out counterfeit drugs
For the first time in Canada -- according to police -- a pharmacist has been charged with dispensing counterfeit medical drugs to patients.
RCMP charged a Hamilton, Ont., druggist with dispensing fake Norvasc -- a medication used to treat high blood pressure and angina.
Police started their investigation in May after a woman discovered a pill that didn't look right.
Another pharmacist sent the suspect pill and a couple of others to Pfizer, the company that makes Norvasc.
Pfizer discovered one was counterfeit and another was meant for distribution in Turkey.
Police have charged pharmacist Abadir Nasr, 28, with possession of property obtained by crime and fraud under $5,000.
RCMP Const. Judy Laurence said Friday the case has prompted serious concerns for patients. Laurence said: "They trust that when they go to their pharmacy that whatever their pharmacist gives them is the legitimate medication and that they don't have to double check to make sure what they're getting is real."
The regional coroner is investigating the deaths of five people who filled prescriptions for Norvasc at Nasr's pharmacy in Hamilton. All five died of a heart attack or stroke.
The Ontario College of Pharmacists is also investigating. A college official said Nasr's duties have been restricted, including that he not own a pharmacy and not be responsible for the acquisition of drugs at a pharmacy.
In Canada counterfeit medical drugs have not been a serious problem, unlike some states in the U.S. where charges have been laid, and jail sentences handed out.