PHILIPSBURG–A pharmacist appeared in Court on Thursday morning, to answer to charges of what the Prosecutor’s Office says concerned a case of unauthorized import of medication.
Ruby D.J. Dunker of Friendly Island Pharmacy was accused of having imported medication without the approval of the Inspectorate of Medicine, on April 22, 2014.
The medication, which was ordered in the Netherlands, arrived at Princess Juliana International Airport SXM as cargo on board of a KLM flight from Amsterdam. The contested medication was found during inspection by Customs officials, who called in a Health Department Inspector. The Inspector found that one type of medication in the box destined for the pharmacy had not been pre-authorised by the Inspectorate.
It took well over two years before this case reached the Court, as the defendant had turned down a so-called “conditional dismissal” in exchange for forfeiting the contested medication on July 24, 2014, Prosecutor Luuk Bertels explained to the Court.
Attorney Cor Merx called upon the Judge to declare the Prosecutor’s case against his client inadmissible because it had taken more than two years before the case had reached the Court. The Judge, however, accepted the case as it was established that the defendant had been served with the summons to appear in Court prior to the expiration of the two-year deadline.
The pharmacist explained to the Court that she orders various types of medication in the Netherlands on a regular basis. As required, the orders are sent to the Inspectorate for approval. However, in this particular case she had ordered medication after the deadline for submitting the order with the Inspectorate had already passed.
She said the medication for a young patient suffering from epilepsy had not been available from a local supplier. As the pharmacist had sworn an oath to provide health care she had placed the order as an emergency. “The week thereafter the same order was approved by the Inspectorate,” the woman assured the Judge.
Dunker has been a pharmacist for 19 years, 10 of which in the Netherlands. “I have acted conscientiously and out of my obligation to care,” she told the Court.
The Prosecutor explained that violation of the Medication Ordinance is considered a serious crime punishable by nine months or a fine of up to NAf. 5,000.
Bertels said the pharmacist should have handed over the unauthorized medication, but added he would not call for a fine.
The Prosecutor said that a pharmacist is responsible for correct orders of medication. He stressed that the import of unregistered medication is prohibited, but did not find it proven that the pharmacist had deliberately violated the rules.
Stating that the medication was intended for a sick child, attorney Merx said it was questionable whether any crime was committed. He called for an acquittal or to dismiss his client from all prosecution.
The Judge said she believed the pharmacist had had good intentions and had acted on her duty of care, but “the rules must be observed,” she added. The Judge underlined that in ordering the confiscation of the medication the pharmacist did not get a sentence, but a so-called administrative order. This would not hurt very much; as the medication in question should be destroyed anyway as the expiration date has passed for quite some time already.
Source: Daily Herald
Pharmacist facing charges over import of medication