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Medical doctor faces 10 charges in Magistrate’s Court

Medical doctor faces 10 charges in Magistrate’s Court

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Three witnesses gave evidence yesterday, and three more are expected to take the stand on September 3, in a case in which physician Dr Junior Ackie is charged.{{more}}

Pharmacists Tyrone Jack, Joanne Ince-Jack and Steve Millington testified against Ackie, who faces ten charges, which were brought against him by the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

According to the charges, on September 27 and October 5, 2011, in St Vincent and the Grenadines, and within the third magisterial district, Ackie: (i) did carry on the business of a pharmacy, without conspicuously exhibiting in the pharmacy a certificate of registration of the business.

(ii) Whilst not being a registered pharmacist, did display the sign “Pharmacy” on his premises at his medical clinic at Arnos Vale, implying to the public that his clinic is a registered pharmacy.

(iii) Operated a retail pharmacy at his medical clinic at Arnos Vale, which the Council of Pharmacy of St Vincent and the Grenadines deemed upon inspection as unsuitable for operating a pharmacy.

(iv) Sold drugs by retail, while the sale was not carried out by a registered pharmacist.

(v) Operated at his retail medical clinic at Arnos Vale, a retail pharmacy which is not under the immediate management, control or supervision of a registered pharmacist in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

When he took the stand, drug inspector Tyrone Jack told the court that on October 5, 2011, he journeyed to the Walk-in Medical Clinic, which he said was owned and operated by Ackie.

He said he saw a sign: “Variety Medical Complex Inc, Pharmacy, Clinic, Apartments”, on the front of the building.

Jack testified that he went to the premises, as part of his investigations, after members of the public had complained about irregularities at the location, and upon the request of the local pharmacy council.

“On getting there, I looked into the window and saw a display of pharmaceutical items considered too dangerous to be sold without prescription,” Jack said.

“I then proceeded to enter the premises, and on entering, I met a young man… and interacted with him….

“I was able to obtain 15 Ciprofloxacin, without a prescription… and I presented them to the police as evidence.”

Jack said that, based on his interaction with the individual, he was able to ascertain that the operation was owned by the accused.

The drug inspector, who is a trained pharmacist, said that pharmacy records indicated that the individual whom he interacted with was not a pharmacist, neither was the establishment registered as a pharmacy.

Jack also said that, based on his knowledge, the Ciprofloxacin which he bought from the man behind the counter, should not have been purchased without a prescription.

“Apart from information from a doctor, that drug also needs advice from a pharmacist, because of dangerous side effects,” Jack noted.

Ciprofloxacin is used to treat a number of infections, including infections of bones and joints, gastroenteritis, urinary tract infections, anthrax, as well as skin and skin structure infections and infectious diarrhoea.

Jack also testified that, on numerous occasions, Ackie had applied for permission to operate a pharmacy in that area, but was not granted permission, because he did not meet the requirements.

The drug inspector provided photos of what he said were signs from the front of the building, as evidence.

Former chairman of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Pharmacy Council Joanne Ince-Jack testified that the Council made a complaint against Ackie to the Commissioner of Police in November 2011.

She said this came about following an incident in September, in which her sister-in-law, Donna Ince, gave her some information, after a visit to Ackie’s clinic, and to a pharmacy in Kingstown.

Ince-Jack said that after the conversation, her brother, Maxwell Ince, Donna’s husband, brought for her some medication, which he had received from Donna.

Ince-Jack said that on receipt of the medication, the Council met and requested an investigation of Variety Medical Complex, where one of the drugs was purchased.

The investigation, conducted by Tyrone Jack, revealed that a pharmacy was being operated out of the premises said to be owned by Ackie, in Arnos Vale, without the permission of the Council, and without a registered pharmacist.

Ince-Jack told the court that she had had one previous encounter with Ackie in the past as chairman of the Council, when in 2006, he was reprimanded for a similar offence committed that year.

The final witness to give evidence on the opening day of the trial was pharmacist Steve Millington, who said he became concerned when Donna Ince came to the People’s Pharmacy where he was working at the time, to fill a prescription.

Millington said that Donna Ince indicated that she had already received one of the items at the Walk-in Clinic’s pharmacy in Arnos Vale.

“To my knowledge there wasn’t a pharmacy at that location,” Millington testified.

“I didn’t know who was operating the pharmacy there, hence, I called the chairman of the Council.”

Millington said that the drugs prescribed for Ince by Ackie were Triamcinolone, an anti-inflammatory drug, the antibiotic Curam, Claritine, an antihistamine, and Omeprazole, used to reduce acid in the stomach.

Counsel for the defense, Samantha Robertson, in her cross-examination of Jack, argued that the pictures entered as evidence could not be connected to Ackie’s premises.

She also argued that since Jack did not know who owned the premises and could not say how many doctors see patients at the location, he could not confirm that Ackie was the owner and operator of the pharmacy.

Jack responded that he could confirm, based on his interaction with the individual he purchased the drugs from.

Robertson also asked Ince-Jack if she was aware of who owned the building, and how many doctors saw patients there at the time, to which she replied “no.”

The case was adjourned to September 3, by magistrate Zoila Browne, after she was informed by counsel from the office of the DPP, Kareen Nelson, that the three remaining witnesses were unavailable to give testimony.

Following the adjournment, Ackie, who did not engage the media, was whisked away from the court in a heavily tinted vehicle.

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