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New West pharmacy sues former pharmacist over reused COVID vaccine syringes

Kent Pharmacy was named in two lawsuits by patients. Now it’s suing the former pharmacy manager.
Lawsuit: Kent Pharmacy, on Columbia Street in downtown New Westminster, is suing a former pharmacy manager who reused syringe barrels while administering COVID-19 vaccinations in the summer of 2021. Photo Cornelia Naylor/files

A downtown New Westminster pharmacy wants its former pharmacy manager to pay for the loss of reputation and business it says it suffered after syringes were reused during COVID vaccinations two years ago.

Kent Pharmacy, on Columbia Street in New Westminster, has filed a lawsuit against Bhanu Prasad Seelaboyina in connection with the highly publicized case from August 2021 — in which Seelaboyina reused syringe barrels (but not the needles) while administering COVID-19 vaccinations to patients at the pharmacy.

The vaccinations in question took place between Aug. 24 and 26, 2021, and led to two separate lawsuits against the pharmacy by patients. Both those lawsuits were filed in the fall of 2021.

Kent Pharmacy (doing business as Ultracare Guardian Pharmacy No. 2) is now taking action against Seelaboyina.

In a notice of civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Friday, July 7, Kent Pharmacy says any “loss, damage or expense” suffered by the patients in question was Seelaboyina’s fault.

It says the company ensured all employees had the proper training and credentials to safely administer vaccines and that proper safety protocols — which Seelaboyina did not follow — were in place at the time of the incident. The notice of claim says Seelaboyina breached the “duty of care” he owed to Kent Pharmacy as its pharmacy manager and that he failed to use the “reasonable care or skill” expected of a licensed pharmacist.

Now Kent Pharmacy is seeking damages for negligence and breach of contract, including loss of business income, and damages for “reputational harm and loss of goodwill.”

Kent Pharmacy prohibited from administering COVID-19, flu vaccinations

The notice of civil claim says Kent Pharmacy lost income after the August 2021 episode, when it was prohibited from providing COVID-19 vaccinations between September 2021 and Jan. 9, 2023. It also notes it was prohibited from giving flu shots from Dec. 13, 2021 until December 2022.

Moreover, it says, since the allegations against Seelaboyina were “widely reported” in the media, the pharmacy’s reputation suffered substantial damage.

No response has been filed as of the writing of this post, and the allegations in the notice of claim have not yet been tested in court.

B.C. College of Pharmacists issued suspension, reprimand

In a separate action, the College of Pharmacists of British Columbia reached a consent agreement with Seelaboyina in August 2022 with respect to the case.

According to that agreement, Seelaboyina administered COVID-19 immunizations to 96 patients between Aug. 24 and 26, 2021. It says he reused the same syringe barrel for multiple patients and that he did not adhere to standards of practice for administering injections.

It also says Seelaboyina “was not forthcoming” between Aug. 26 and Sept. 9, 2021 when asked about the reusing of syringe barrels.

“Him not disclosing his conduct during this time period put 96 patients at risk and denied these patients the agency to determine how to make an informed decision to mitigate the risks,” the agreement says, calling that behaviour an “egregious breach of his ethical obligations as a healthcare provider.”

Under the consent agreement, Seelaboyina is suspended as a registered pharmacist between Aug. 22, 2022 and Aug. 21, 2023. He’s also not permitted to administer drugs by injection and/or intranasally for a period of 180 days after that (from Aug. 22, 2023 to Feb. 15, 2024).

He’s also not allowed to be a pharmacy manager for one year after his suspension ends (until Aug. 21, 2024).

The agreement also requires Seelaboyina to complete full retraining before applying for re-certification for drug administration by injection and/or intranasal route, and to complete and pass an ethics course.

It also calls for a letter of reprimand to be placed on the college register.

Follow Julie MacLellan on Twitter @juliemaclellan.
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