A B.C. College of Pharmacists order restricts Sunrise Pharmacy on Main Street from dispensing any narcotic or controlled drug substance intended for opioid agonist treatment. Pharmacy owner Joelle Mbamy has filed a court petition to have the order quashed. (Robin Grant - Western News)

B.C. coroner sheds light on overdose death of teenaged pharmacy employee

Documents provide more info on 2017 overdose death of employee from Sunrise Pharmacy

While a Penticton pharmacist awaits her disciplinary hearing with the College of Pharmacists of B.C., more details have come to light about the events surrounding the 2017 overdose death of a teenager that was employed at the pharmacy.

Joelle Mbamy, owner of Sunrise Pharmacy at 749 Main St., is being investigated by the licensing, public safety and regulation board after an interim order was made on May 23 that prevents her from dispensing any narcotic or controlled drug substance intended for opioid agonist treatment. She is also restricted from compounding any medication and preparing or dispensing any medication for intravenous administration.

The local pharmacist came under fire after unproven allegations of having prepared and dispensed intravenous drug products under “unsanitary conditions.” According to the college, the resulting interim order came into effect on June 7 to protect the public and will remain in place until the investigation is complete. Mbamy has since filed a court petition to have the order quashed, citing in the documents that, aside from the unproven allegations, it was also issued based on the methadone overdose deaths of one of her employees in 2017, which she claims she had no involvement in.

The employee, a 15-year-old Penticton resident, was found unresponsive in his home on the morning of Sept. 19, 2017, and it was later determined he died of acute drug toxicity. According to the BC Coroners Service report, which was completed one day after the interim order was announced, the teen’s heart showed signs of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is listed as a contribution to his death.

READ MORE: Penticton pharmacist denies wrongdoing in overdose death of employee

“(The teen) was employed part-time at a local pharmacy and performed general duties such as filling paperwork and cleaning. Following (the teen’s) death it was learned that he likely had access to methadone while working at the pharmacy,” states the report. “(He) was not witnessed to have consumed methadone, but the liquid methadone had been stored in an unlocked cabinet in the medication compounding room, and (he) had been in the room unsupervised for several minutes on Sept. 18, 2017.”

The report says the teen was “an excellent student” who “was well-liked by both adults and peers,” and that he was healthy and did not have a known history of consuming substances.

According to the report the day before his death, the teen worked an after-school shift at the pharmacy but had a family member pick him up around 7 p.m. due to him experiencing what he thought was “food poisoning as a result of something that he had eaten at school.”

The report goes on to state that he was last spoken to at 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 18 and “he indicated that he still felt like he had the flu and would consider attending a clinic in the morning if he continued to not feel well.”

Though the name of the pharmacy is not mentioned in the coroner’s report, court documents filed by Mbamy confirm it was her pharmacy where he was employed. The teen’s death was investigated by RCMP and the College of Pharmacists of B.C. but no charges were laid and is was deemed not suspicious.

READ MORE: Penticton pharmacy restricted from dispensing opioid treatment drugs

“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.

Mbamy’s claim states that the college found a one-litre bottle of methadone, 10mg/ml cherry flavoured solution, in an unlocked cabinet in her pharmacy 14 months after the teen’s death. She reasons this is why it was concluded in the coroner’s report that he likely obtained the methadone from the pharmacy.

In her claim, Mbamy also reasons this order was issued based on the fact that she was previously found guilty of mistreating dogs. In 2018, she plead guilt to an animal cruelty charge and was sentenced to a $1,000 fine, which she has since paid, and a 10-year prohibition from owning animals.

Mbamy has not responded to requests for comments.

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

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
JordynThomson 
Send Jordyn Thomson an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Missing man thought to be in Nanaimo

Nanaimo RCMP ask for public’s help in locating Kevin Golze, 45

School district reveals restart plans for Nanaimo-Ladysmith

K-5 students will see two days of instruction a week, 6-12 students once a week

Nanaimo painter inspired by medieval animal illustrations in new exhibition

Yvonne Vander Kooi to unveil ‘Bestiary’ via Gallery Merrick live-stream

Walk for Alzheimer’s will physically distance online this year

Nanaimo invited to take part in fundraiser for Alzheimer Society of B.C.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Community policing office’s closure will impact safety in the area

Strong police and bylaw presence needed in neighbourhood, say letter writers

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Beefs & Bouquets, May 27

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

Police watchdog recommends charges against five Mounties in Prince George man’s death

Police used pepper spray on the man, who then had trouble breathing before dying at the scene

B.C. tourism seeks relief as businesses wait for COVID-19 restrictions to ease

Mid-June earliest for more in-province travel to be authorized

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

VIDEO: Humpback whales put on quite a show

The ‘playful’ pod lingered by a Campbell River tour operator’s boat for quite some time

B.C. woman launches First Nations search, rescue and patrol program

Linda Peters envisions trained searchers ready to go at moment’s notice in each B.C. First Nation

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Man who bound, murdered Vancouver Island teen still a risk to public: parole board

Kimberly Proctor’s killer is still ‘mismanaging emotions,’ has had ‘temper tantrums’

Most Read