Dr Julian Eden, a GP who ran online service e-med has been suspended from practising for nine months by the GMC following allegations of irresponsible prescribing.
As E-Health Insider Primary Care reported last week, Dr Eden appeared before the GMC Fitness to Practice Panel after prescribing betablockers for a 16-year-old boy with a history of self-harm and mental illness.
The panel also heard evidence from a mother-of-three who was prescribed a year’s supply of the highly addictive painkiller dihydrocodeine as well as valium. Another patient obtained 51 repeat prescriptions for addictive sleeping tablets Zolpdiem and Zopiclone.
Announcing the judgment, the panel told Dr Eden: “You prescribed potentially dangerous quantities of medication over an extended period of time to two patients, and behaved irresponsibly in relation to prescribing for a very vulnerable young man.
"Two other instances demonstrated misconduct that was not in your notional patients’ best interests. In view of these wide-ranging failures, the panel could not identify any particular aspect of your practice that would be suitable for retraining, and concluded that the imposition of conditions would neither be appropriate nor sufficient in this case.”
The panel also heard how Dr Eden prescribed Reductill blood pressure tablet to an undercover Sun reporter, who lied about his weight and an Independent on Sunday journalist who asked for Viagra – whom he called “not real patients.”
The panel dismissed this and said he ‘demonstrated limited insight’: “At the time of prescribing you had no idea of the true identity of either of these patients but you had entered into a doctor-patient relationship with both of them.”
They added: “You should have been aware, that when you are not the treating GP, of the need to assess the risk and benefits of any medication before prescribing. The panel was particularly concerned about your reluctance to inform or involve other medical professionals who might be caring for any of the five patients.”
Dr Eden told the panel that he had refused to prescribe hypnotic or analgesic medication since these events came to light and that improvements have been made to the e-med website.
He now has 28 days to appeal the decision. If he does not appeal, he will reappear before a Fitness to Practice Panel after the nine months suspension in relation to his registration.