Former pharmacist accused of taking advantage of addicts
Published Sunday, May 6, 2012 7:27PM PDT
A pharmacist who lost her licence after being accused of giving kickbacks to Downtown Eastside heroin addicts is facing new allegations – this time for taking advantage of addicts in Surrey.
A Surrey recovery house manager claims Manijeh Farbeh evicted ten recovering addicts from the house after they refused to get their prescription drugs from her preferred pharmacy.
But Farbeh claims the patients were evicted for stealing and not paying rent.
"She tried to get people to switch their prescriptions back to her pharmacy, and my guys were not willing to do that," said recovery house manager Danielle Airth. "There was a lot of drama, a lot of stress."
Farbeh holds the lease on the house near 96th Avenue and 132nd Street, and she sublets to Rebuilding Lives Recovery, Airth told CTV News.
Many of those patients were on methadone, the legal drug that helps addicts kick their heroin habit.
There's lots of money to be made in dispensing methadone – the provincial government pays a fee to the pharmacist for each prescription filled. Addicts are sometimes viewed as the best customers, because they often require a daily dose.
It's against provincial rules, but some recovery houses have been offered kickbacks from pharmacists for exclusive access to their addicts.
In 2008, Farbeh was accused of offering $10 kickbacks to addicts directly to secure their business when she worked at AYC Pharamcy. A subsequent investigation by the College of Pharmacists revoked her license, saying she "practiced incompetently" and said she did "not demonstrate that she is worthy of the public trust."
Farbeh said she is no longer a practicing pharmacist. She said she is simply a middleman, offering space for lease to several types of organizations, of which the recovery house was only one.
She said she is not accepting kickbacks for access to the patients in the house.
"I don't get any money from the pharmacy," she said.
Farbeh denies the eviction had anything to do with where they filled prescriptions. Another recovery house operator, who also spoke on her behalf, said Farbeh said the patients started it.
"She's reported all the furniture stolen," Jim Grant said. "She had to kick them out for not paying rent."
Community activist Steve Burke noted that while there are some regulations governing the behaviour of pharmacists, there's no provincial regulation of recovery houses.
He says recovery houses need regulation, so there's no doubt people involved with them are acting for the patients, rather than for profit.
"There should be a watchdog making sure this doesn't happen…when someone has been disciplined and their licence has been pulled, why are they even allowed to do anything in this area with so many vulnerable people?" he asked.