Marigold Compounding and Natural Pharmacy has been shut down by the College of Pharmacists of BC. Inset is the advisory posted on the front door.

BREAKING NEWS: Authorities close Marigold Pharmacy UPDATED

Lawyer calls action a 'witch-hunt'

For the second time, Marigold Compounding and Natural Pharmacy in Courtenay has been shut down.

Manager Isidore ‘Rudy’ Sanchez faces a suspension after an investigation revealed “serious concerns” with the pharmacy site and its practice, the College of Pharmacists of BC said. Believing the pharmacy was posing a public safety and patient health risk, the college dispatched an investigations team that shut down operations Friday morning.

“What they saw shocked them,” said Mykle Ludvigsen, the college’s director of public accountability, noting the closure is warranted. “Our act provides for that. It’s used in very, very rare circumstances.”

The college says unsterile and unclean facilities have been used to manufacture a variety of prescription drugs and over-the-counter health products without authority to do so. In addition, human placenta intended for encapsulation was accepted, handled and prepared with little regard for safety protocols when handling human tissue — despite the lack of a proper facility or the regulatory approval to provide it.

Further, the college says patients were counselled on alternative drug therapies and products “well outside the scope of pharmacy practice and without notification to the original prescriber,” a news release states.

It also says documentation was completed and submitted incorrectly to a number of relevant parties.

(To see press release in its entirety, scroll down.)

Sanchez’ lawyer Clive Ansley believes the closure is part of an ongoing witch-hunt by the college, which he suggests is conducting police work for pharmaceutical companies.

“It’s not isolated,” Ansley said. “The college has been going after various natural pharmacists for a number of years. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just a campaign on their part to make the world safe for big pharmaceutical companies. The college constantly makes these accusations that they’re closing these natural pharmacies down out of a concern for danger to the public…The witch-hunt is outrageous and disgraceful in my view.”

To Ansley’s understanding, each year in Canada there are roughly 300-350 deaths from side effects from products from pharmaceutical companies, but a death has yet to occur from products compounded by Marigold or other naturopaths.

In 2010, under direction from Health Canada, the college slapped Sanchez with a year-and-a-half suspension for what it calls “similar infractions.” He completed educational training, paid a fine to the college, and agreed to practise pharmacy in accordance with standards, and with federal and provincial legislation.

Ansley recalls Marigold filed a lawsuit against the college after it sent a trailer that “stole” about $250,000 worth of inventory “for no good reason,” and shut it down for 14 months. The college said it would return Sanchez’ licence if Marigold fulfilled certain conditions, among them a $30,000 payment and withdrawal of the lawsuit.

Since then, Ansley said the witch-hunt has continued. He notes yearly pharmacy inspections normally take a day with one inspector, who commonly finds minor infractions. But he says six inspectors spent two days going through Marigold during a “routine” inspection of the business, located at 576 England Ave., in March.

“That tells you everything you need to know,” Ansley said. “Since that time, they have continued to just pepper Rudy with a huge number of questions.”

The college says the “extraordinary suspension” to Marigold’s pharmacy licence and Sanchez’ registration as a pharmacist will remain in place until further notice.

“This is not usual,” Ludvigsen said. “I’ve been here three years, and this is the first time I’ve had to deal with this.”

The college suggests consulting a physician for those who have used any Marigold products and are concerned about their health. If a prescription needs to be refilled, contact your prescriber to write a new one.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

 

 

*****

The following is the College of Pharmacists of BC press release in its entirety:

The College of Pharmacists of BC has ordered the closure of Marigold Compounding and Natural Pharmacy in Courtenay and a suspension on the registration of its manager, Mr. Isidore “Rudy” Sanchez, after an investigation revealed serious concerns with both the pharmacy site and the pharmacy practice conducted there. The College believes this pharmacy poses a significant public safety and patient health risk, dispatching an investigations team to Courtenay that successfully shut down the operations of the pharmacy this morning.

Some examples of unsafe practices that the College believes pose a risk to the public include:

    • Unsterile and generally unclean facilities being used to manufacture a variety of prescription drugs and over-the-counter health products without authority to do so. In addition, compounding safety standards appeared to not have been followed when delivering that service

    • Human placenta intended for encapsulation was accepted, handled, and prepared with little evident regard for safety protocols necessary when handling human tissue. This service was being offered despite the lack of a proper facility or the regulatory approval to provide it.

    • Patients were counselled on alternative drug therapies and products well outside the scope of pharmacy practice and without notification to the original prescriber.

    • Documentation was completed and submitted incorrectly to a number of relevant parties. An incorrect health care record is a serious risk as improper decisions could be made on the wrong information, putting a patient’s health at risk.

     

Mr. Sanchez was previously suspended by the College for similar infractions and served a year and a half suspension. He completed educational training, paid a fine to the College, and signed an undertaking to practice pharmacy in accordance with pharmacy standards and all other federal and provincial legislation. The extraordinary suspension to Marigold’s pharmacy licence and Mr. Sanchez’s registration as a pharmacist will remain in place until such time as the College’s investigation is complete.

The College of Pharmacists of BC is the regulatory body for pharmacy in British Columbia and is responsible for registering pharmacists and pharmacy technicians and licensing pharmacies throughout the province.

If you are a patient of Marigold Compounding and Natural Pharmacy:

     

  • Consult your physician if you have used any products from Marigold Natural Pharmacy and are concerned about your health.

    If you need to have a prescription refilled, please contact your prescriber to write you a new prescription. You can then attend any pharmacy of your choice for pharmacy care.

 

– College of Pharmacists of BC

Record staff continues to work on this story and will update as details become available.

 

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