Joelle Mbamy, owner of Sunrise Pharmacy, is being investigated by the B.C. College of Pharmacists. (Western News file photo)

South Okanagan pharmacist denies wrongdoing in overdose death of employee

Sunrise Pharmacy owner still under interim order from the College of Pharmacists of B.C.

A Penticton pharmacist has filed a court petition to have an order by the College of Pharmacists of B.C. quashed that prevents her from dispensing narcotics or controlled drug substances and compounding medications.

Joelle Mbamy, owner of Sunrise Pharmacy, is being investigated by the licensing, public safety and regulating board after an interim order was made on May 23 that prevents her from, what she describes as the majority of services she offers her patients, dispensing any narcotic or controlled drug substance intended for opioid agnoist treatment until a disciplinary hearing.

Mbamy came under investigation from allegations of having prepared and dispensed intravenous drug products under “unsanitary conditions” and after a teenage employee died from a suspected overdose. None of the allegations have been proven.

READ MORE: Penticton pharmacy restricted from dispensing opioid treatment drugs

Mbamy said in her court filed petition that she also believes the order was based on a past employee who died from a methadone overdose.

“Ms. Mbamy says that the numerous complaints made against her by the college are, at best, spurious in nature, and designed to give the impression that her pharmacy, the Sunrise Pharmacy, is somehow guilty of misconduct when it is not,” said the court petition filed by her legal counsel.

READ MORE: Penticton pharmacist gets $1k fine, 10-year animal prohibition

The court documents revealed that on Sept. 17, 2017, a 14-year-old male died as a result of a methadone overdose and Mbamy said the college concluded that the teen obtained the narcotics from Sunrise Pharmacy prior to his death after finding a one-litre bottle of methadone, 10 mg/ml cherry flavoured solution, was found stored in an unlocked cabinet 14 months after he died.

Mbamy claims the teen’s death, which occurred a year and a half before the interim order, was thoroughly investigated and determined conclusively by RCMP that she was no way involved. She states the college’s interim order has made her ability to practice as a pharmacist impossible.

She said regardless of any further decision by the college, and that if she is cleared of any wrongdoing, it still has created an economic consequence as 80 per cent of her income is based on the distribution of methadone. The petition states that at no point in time that Mbamy was advised that the inquiry committee of the college was considering suspending her registration as a pharmacist, nor was she allowed to be heard by the committee.

She claims that she is not aware of any instance where she has wrongly dispensed medication to a patient or caused any harm to the health of any patient.

In the court file petition, Mbamy stated the order against was also based on the fact she was once guilty of mistreating dogs.

In 2018, Mbamy pleaded guilty to an animal cruelty charge and was sentenced to a $1,000 fine and a 10-year prohibition against owning animals.

“Ms. Mbamy paid the fine, amongst other reasons, not because she believed she was guilty, but to avoid the expense of legal fees — the fine was cheaper than her lawyers’ bills, it was an economic analysis,” it states in the petition.

To show that she does abide by the college’s rulings and legislation, Mbamy explained in the petition how she complied with their demand that she shut down a needle buy-back program she created as a way to help clean up the community.

Mbamy, who is originally from Cameroon, with her first language as French, said she was never asked by investigators if she required assistance in the French language or would like to retain legal counsel. She was trained as a pharmacist in Belgium and registered as a pharmacist with the college in 1997 after passing a qualifying exam and completed an internship in Prince George. Sunrise Pharmacy opened its doors in 2002 in Penticton.

The Western News contacted the College of Pharmacists of B.C. and Mbamy for further comment but neither has replied.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.


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