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

Harvesting portion of phase 1 of a fuel-mitigation project drawing to a close

By Ken Alexander Phase 1 of the fuel-mitigation project from Point Road… Continue reading

Social media a blessing and a curse during time of crisis: B.C. communication expert

‘In moments of crisis, fear is very real and palpable,’ says SFU’s Peter Chow-White

BC Parks doing some fuel-management projects on Green Lake’s Sunsetview site

By Ken Alexander The most recent fuel-management projects at Green Lake Provincial… Continue reading

Much of the Cariboo under open fire ban due to COVID-19

‘No new fires may be initiated and no additional material may be added to existing fires’

Interior Health officials outline pandemic response in virtual town hall

Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick moderates digital discussion, Q&A with Interior Health leadership

Evening world update: U.S. restrictions extended 30 days; NY deaths near 1,000

Comprehensive world update, with the latest developments in the COVID-19 crisis

‘It’s up to us: Recently-returned B.C. couple urges Canadians to take COVID-19 seriously

Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

‘Nothing concrete’: Tenants, landlords lack details after B.C. unveils COVID-19 rental aid

Single mom in Golden says she’s already going to the food bank after being laid off

Canada will make sure masks sent by China meet quality standards: Trudeau

Chinese Embassy tweeted that China was sending 30,000 medical masks along with gowns, gloves and goggles

B.C. issues guidelines about distancing, reusable bags to grocery stores amid COVID-19

Hand sanitizer and markers to keep lines two metres are apart are needed, province says

No plans to call in military right now to enforce COVID-19 quarantine: Trudeau

Trudeau unveils $7.5M for Kids Help Phone, $9M for vulnerable seniors amid COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about the Olympics?

Put your knowledge to the test with these 12 questions

B.C. announces $3M for food banks to increase capacity during COVID-19

It is not clear how much of the money will flow towards Greater Victoria food banks

Most Read