Mr Elias Juanas, who refused an interview under advice from his solicitor, told me, ‘We’ve done nothing wrong!’ He and his fellow pharmacist, Mr Roberto Mamblona, were at their Elias Pharmacy in Fairfield when I visited on Thursday 24 July 2014. They were indeed surprised to see me, while my camera crew waited outside. Mr Juanas said that he would be happy to give me an interview, but he felt that he would first have to check with his legal team. My crew and I waited outside, while Mr Juanas and one of his assistants called the lawyers.
Eventually, the assistant came out to advise that the interview is ‘declined because of the on-going investigation’. While I was inside, I confronted Mr Mamblona with allegations that he had signed a Return-on-Summons that contained false information. He denied this and maintained his innocence. I also asked Mr Juanas if he remembers our phone conversation in February 2011, when I called to warn him about Mr Sam Cohen and the Institute of Hair Regrowth & Beauty (IHRB). Indeed, he recalled, after Mr Mamblona prompted him.
After a second invitation for an interview, Mr Elias Juanas responded via email on 4 August 2014, saying, ‘Thanks for your e-mail but unfortunately I have been advised by my lawyers that as the matter is subject of a current investigation before the HCCC I am unable to comment or otherwise discuss the matter.’
Both pharmacists are currently under investigation by the Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC), after the Pharmaceutical Services Unit raided Elias Pharmacy in late 2013 . I have a feeling that when a raid takes place, investigators start to look through all of the records, and not only those pertaining to the original line of enquiry; namely that it is alleged that Elias Pharmacy was illegally supplying medications to Mr Sam Cohen and IHRB.
1) Did Elias Pharmacy supply Scheduled medications to IHRB, knowing that IHRB is not licensed, and was specifically Prohibited by HCCC from ‘supplying’ or ‘selling’ Scheduled medications?
2) Did Elias Pharmacy fail in its duty of care by not having any contact with patients, and leaving the client interaction in the hands of Mr Cohen who has no medical training?
3) Did Elias Pharmacy add any substances to the Minoxidil, over and above what the doctor has specified in the prescription?
4) Did Elias Pharmacy know about the dangers and side-effects associated with taking instructions from Mr Cohen to add an unknown-untested secret formulation to the bottles of S2 and S4 Minoxidil?
5) Did Elias Pharmacy add any retinoids, when the prescription did not call for it?
6) Did Elias Pharmacy add any hormone-type product  when the prescription did not call for it?
7) Did Elias Pharmacy ensure that the compounded medications sent to Mr Cohen were in fact going to the person to whom it was originally compounded, considering that Mr Cohen was found to have swapped orders and bottles and on-sold them to clients who did not have a prescription? What did Elias Pharmacy do about warnings that Sam Cohen was found to have ‘endangered the health and safety of his clients’?
8) Did Elias Pharmacy label each bottle according to the legal requirement, or were bottles sent without any labels, contrary to the Act?
9) Did Elias Pharmacy place the name of each client/patient on the bottle, as is required?
10) Did Elias Pharmacy use sloppy data entry, resulting in computer records and labels showing strange non-existent names of non-existent doctors?
11) What did Elias Pharmacy do when owner Elias Juanas received a personal phone warning from Jonar Nader in February 2011?
12) Did Elias Pharmacy support aggrieved IHRB clients who were being sold Elias Pharmacy poisons and medications, and who pleaded with the Messrs Juanas and Mamblona for information about the contents of the bottles?
13) When Elias Pharmacy was Summonsed by a Mr VJ via the Consumer Tribunal (CTTT), did Mr Mamblona lie in that Return-on-Summons when he stated & signed that he does not (and did not) add anything to the Minoxidil topical solution? Would his Return-on-Summons now square-up with what he told HCCC and PSU investigators about his use and inclusion of IHRB’s secret formula? Therefore, did Mr Mamblona lie to the Tribunal in answer to the Summons?
14) Did Elias Pharmacy dispense or compound any products for IHRB, without a script being presented?
15) In the Return-on-Summons, Mr Mamblona signed a response to the Tribunal wherein he said, ‘I supplied compounded topical solutions to clients referred by Institute of Hair Regrowth and Beauty Pty Limited (IHRB). These were non-prescription items only…’ Will HCCC and PSU investigations reveal otherwise?
16) In point 15 above, Mr Mamblona says that clients were ‘referred’ to Elias Pharmacy. Is it incorrect to say ‘refer’ when in fact the transaction, sale, instructions, and care, have nothing to do with the client, in that no client was ever met, communicated with, or seen, and that no referral had taken place, and products were simply sold directly to IHRB whereby IHRB was the client, and the end-user had no contact with the pharmacy nor its pharmacists?
WHEN DID ELIAS PHARMACY KNOW ABOUT IHRB’S PROHIBITION ORDERS?
Below is a record of the occasions that Elias Pharmacy was alerted and warned, and therefore should have known not to deal with IHRB and Sam Cohen:
14 Feb 2011 Jonar phoned Mr Elias Juanas and warned him about Sam Cohen and IHRB. Mr Juanas said words to the effect of, ‘Someone is going to make the money, so why should I miss out on making the money?’ He also said that so long as he is furnished with a prescription, he does not care what Mr Cohen does or how he does it.
14 Feb 2011 Jonar confirms the conversation via email that afternoon, and offers a hyperlink to the Department of Health’s warning about IHRB. Also a link was provided to Jonar’s dedicated website www.IHRB-Story.com .
15 Feb 2011 Elias sends email to Jonar and says, ‘I will read it carefully and I will follow it up.’
28 Feb 2011 Elias responds to KL about the contents of IHRB’s bottles. Elias says that only Vitamins A&B are added.
1 Nov 2011 A comprehensive email details IHRB’s misconduct that ought to ring alarm bells for Elias Pharmacy.
13 Nov 2011 Follow up on previous emails.
14 Nov 2011 Despite bottles coming from Elias Pharmacy, the response is, ‘…this matter has nothing to do with the pharmacy…’
15 Nov 2011 VJ again alerts Mr Mamblona about the possible criminal offence.
17 Nov 2011 Elias Pharmacy says, ‘… we are a family pharmacy and we follow all the regulations.’
26 Nov 2011 VJ tells Mr Mamblona about IHRB’s ads being found unlawful, and warns of a Summons to compel him to answer questions.
1 Dec 2011 The answers never came.
20 Dec 2011 Follow-up was made, to seek answers.
18 Jan 2012 Warns of Summons. Urges truth. Explains seriousness. Re-submits the list of questions.
20 May 2012 Warns of Summons, and attaches VJ’s original concerns and questions.
4 June 2012 Summons asks about ingredients and their effects, and if any were exclusive to IHRB or Mr Cohen.
18 June 2012 Mr Mamblona admits 2a) none of the ingredients were proven to regrow hair; 3) None were intellectual property of IHRB or Mr Cohen.
26 Sept 2012 Daniel sent an email and followed it up with this letter to Mr Elias. No reply was received to these questions.
WHO IS IN CHARGE?
Conditions imposed upon Elias Juanas and Roberto Mamblona stipulate that neither pharmacist can be in charge of a pharmacy. As a result, their notice board at their Ware Street pharmacy shows Mr Tom Gorgy (who served a prison sentence for defrauding the Commonwealth) is the pharmacist in charge . We will continue to monitor the progress of this investigation, and report back. Meanwhile, if Elias or Roberto would like to speak with me, I would be happy to record an interview with them, to hear their side of the story. If Elias and Roberto are found to have engaged in misconduct, they could go the way of a former IHRB pharmacist who was de-registered. Read about Mr Fryar of Hunter Connect Pharmacy at this link .