Steroids and sleeping pills
The Commission’s prosecution of Dr Harris concerned his prescription and supply of steroids and sleeping pills. Dr Harris’s conduct came to light as a result of an investigation by the Pharmaceutical Services Branch (PSB) of the Department of Health in 2005-06. The PSB successfully prosecuted Dr Harris for failing to provide sufficient information about the steroids that he had obtained.
The PSB referred the case to the Medical Board, which held an inquiry, at which Dr Harris said that the steroids had been used by bodybuilders and for anti-ageing. Dr Harris claimed that he had prescribed the drugs to ‘minimise harm’, but also accepted that this was a poor excuse and that he had been motivated by greed. He admitted that his conduct was ‘totally unacceptable’. The Board suspended Dr Harris’s registration and referred the case to the Commission.
The Commission decided to prosecute Dr Harris before the Medical Tribunal. Shortly before the hearing, Dr Harris asked that his name be removed from the register of medical practitioners. Dr Harris did not attend the hearing.
On the basis of the Commission’s evidence, including Dr Harris’s admissions to the Medical Board, the Tribunal found that Dr Harris had inappropriately prescribed and supplied steroids and sleeping pills, and that this was dangerous.
The Tribunal also found that Dr Harris had purchased drugs from pharmacies and wholesalers, and then sold them for cash at a higher price, without keeping records of many of these transactions. The Tribunal found that, in providing steroids to people who were not his patients, Dr Harris had ‘abandoned any notion of medical practice and was to all intents and purposes a drug dealer’.
The seriousness of Dr Harris’s conduct was exacerbated by a number of factors. For example, he had concealed his conduct from the other doctors in his practice. Furthermore, he had only stopped supplying the drugs when he knew he was being investigated.
The Tribunal deregistered Dr Harris for a minimum of seven years.