Pharmacists who sold drugs illegally suspended

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Media captionThe pharmacists have been suspended for 18 months

Three pharmacists caught illegally selling addictive drugs to undercover reporters have been suspended with immediate effect.

A BBC London investigation found nine west London pharmacies sold drugs including Valium, Viagra, temazepam and morphine without prescription.

As a result three of them have received 18 month suspension orders following a General Pharmaceutical Council hearing.

A Metropolitan Police investigation into all nine is still on-going.

The three pharmacists suspended are Chawan Shaida of Bin Seena Pharmacy, Hussain Jamal Rasool of Al Farabi Pharmacy - both in Paddington - and Murtaza Gulamhusein from Curie Pharmacy in Maida Vale.

Selling drugs without prescription has a maximum penalty of two years in jail.

'Matter of urgency'

An inspector at the Met's Drugs Directorate told the BBC last month: "It looks like you have evidence of criminality and obviously we need to look at that very closely.

"We would want to look at that as a matter of urgency."

Meanwhile a third investigation is being launched jointly by Westminster Council and Inner North West London Primary Care Trust.

Westminster Council has said it was suspending its contract with Curie Pharmacy.

The General Pharmaceutical Council had said before the BBC London investigation, it had only taken one pharmacist in England to a fitness to practise hearing for selling drugs without a prescription in 2012.

Several London pharmacies sold the reporters from the BBC London's Inside Out programme diazepam or its trade name drug Valium - a strong and addictive sedative in the benzodiazepine family - for up to £85.

Over a few weeks, researchers bought 288 Valium tablets, 21 temazepam tablets, 294 amoxicillin tablets, 24 Viagra tablets and one bottle of Oramorph without prescriptions.

And for £200, Al Farabi Pharmacy in Paddington dispensed a bottle of Oramorph - containing morphine.

A standard NHS prescription would cost about £7.65.

The BBC was acting on specific intelligence about the pharmacies.

Latest figures show 293 people died in the UK in 2011 from misuse of benzodiazepines, more than double the 125 killed by cocaine and ecstasy combined.

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