A “greedy” pharmacist has been jailed for 16 months after being found guilty of defrauding the NHS out of more than £76,000 using prescriptions.
Michael Lloyd, 53, gave out cheap medication to dementia patients and “used a loophole” to bill the health service for expensive liquid medicine from his pharmacy in South Wales for over six years.
Cardiff Crown Court was told the value of some of the medication Lloyd should have claimed for was as little as £3, and that what he actually received for the liquid form cost the NHS up to £300 a time.
On Tuesday, Lloyd was labelled “greedy” by a judge after hearing he had “Tippexed” over, or amended, 1,500 prescription forms for patients to overcharge the NHS by tens of thousands of pounds.
The fraud included drugs like Alzheimer’s medicines memantine and donepezil, which made up a third of the fake prescriptions, and even basic painkillers and antibiotics.
Prosecutor Peter Donnison said Lloyd’s fraud was uncovered after a significant rise in the budget for dementia drugs was noted by the chief pharmacist of Cwm Taf University Health Board, Dr Brian Hawkins.
He explained liquid forms of the same medication were only needed in cases such as when a patient has a gag reflex or for young children.
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Dr Hawkins’s concerns led to an investigation into Lloyd and Talbot Pharmacy, based in Talbot Green, Llantrisant, South Wales, which he owns with his two brothers along with four other branches.
He gave no comment in an initial police interview in January last year, but a year-long NHS fraud investigation soon found a total of 1,500 doctored prescriptions that totalled £76,475.
Lloyd later admitted his fraud and expressed “regret”, but told police: “I haven’t actually altered prescriptions, just endorsed them differently.”
Lloyd paid back the total to the NHS four weeks after the interview in May this year by taking out cash from his business, which the court heard he will have to pay back.
James Hartson, defending, described Lloyd as a “well-respected man”, who lives with his wife, a doctor, and their three children aged 17, 15, and nine in the village on Penllyn in Cowbridge, South Wales.
Mr Hartson said: “The motivation was financial, purely, which is unfathomable in a case like this – a successful career pharmacist, whose career is crashing down as I speak in a most awful and public way.”
Mr Hartson said Lloyd had been suspended from the profession for the last 21 months, and said it was likely he would “never be readmitted to that profession”.
Lloyd pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation and was jailed for 16 months.