The NSW Pharmacy Tribunal has de-registered the pharmacist Mr Jonathan Fryar who had been supplying medications to IHRB. Mr Fryar’s career as a pharmacist has been cut short, while IHRB and its owner Mr Sam Cohen continue to operate in breach of Sanctions and Orders.
The Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) prosecuted Jonathan Fryar, after finding the pharmacist had illegally supplied medications to the Institute of Hair Regrowth & Beauty Pty Ltd (IHRB). You can read the HCCC media release here .
[UPDATE: IHRB’s third pharmacists (Elias Pharmacy) had lost their Drug Licence. Click here to read about this development. ]
Consumer advocate Mr Jonar Nader  had brought a complaint against IHRB to HCCC. NSW Police raided IHRB  on 22 September 2010 and found hundreds of doses of medications (including dangerous medications) used illegally by the unregistered owner of IHRB, Mr Sam Cohen. The raid was captured on camera by ‘Today Tonight’ . After the raid, Jonathan Fryar refused to deal with Sam Cohen who in turn refused to pay his bills. Mr Fryar said that as a result, he took legal action to recover the $14,800  that Mr Cohen owed him.
The HCCC then spent six months unravelling IHRB’s illegal operation, and the Health Care Complaints Commission finally issued Mr Sam Cohen and IHRB with a Permanent Prohibition Order . At the time of the Police raid, Health officials also executed a search warrant at Hunter Connect Pharmacy of Pitt Street (Sydney) whose proprietor was Mr Jonathan Fryar.
The Pharmacy Tribunal of NSW heard two complaints against Mr Jonathan Fryar and concluded that Mr Fryar was guilty on both counts. The second complaint related solely to Mr Fryar’s relationship with Sam Cohen and IHRB. The Tribunal cancelled Mr Fryar’s registration, effective as at 10 May 2013. Sources close to Mr Fryar said that he no longer owns this Hunter Connect Pharmacy. It is believed that the financial strain became unbearable, because Mr Fryar was ordered by the Tribunal to pay costs, and this ran into the tens of thousands of dollars.
The legal decision that explains the relationship between Mr Fryar and IHRB can be found here . No doubt Mr Cohen will try to distance himself from the pharmacist’s illegal activities. Mr Nader and his Court Researcher had attended the Hearing that was first flagged here . It stands to reason that if the Pharmacy Tribunal saw fit to de-register the pharmacist, which effectively destroys the young man’s career, it had to have been as a result of serious breaches. The pharmacist was, for both complaints (the Second complaint pertaining to supplying to IHRB) found to be guilty of ‘unsatisfactory professional conduct’ AND ‘professional misconduct’. Such grave misconduct ought to point to an equal measure of misconduct on IHRB’s part, because it cannot be said that a string of serious breaches by the pharmacist would iron themselves out by the time the medications reached IHRB sufficient to put Mr Cohen in the clear. He was part of the problem. If the pharmacist’s conduct was bad, then Mr Cohen’s conduct was equally bad because he was at the receiving-end of the medications which he illegally on-sold to unsuspecting clients whose health and safety were endangered. The Tribunal found that the relationship between the pharmacist and Mr Cohen included ‘wholesale’ supply, which the Prosecuting Counsel noted meant that Mr Sam Cohen could do what he liked with the mediations, while operating as an unlicensed and unqualified practitioner who was never permitted to sell or supply medications to clients. Mr Cohen had often said that he was merely acting as an ‘Agent’ for his clients. The pharmacist tried to describe it by way of an analogy, saying that it is like medication going to a nursing home, not directly to patients but to someone who administers the medications to them. In paragraph 107 we read, ‘The Tribunal cannot and does not, accept this comparison as valid.’
During the hearing, Mr Fryar was asked by Mr Farmer (Senior Counsel), ‘Do you think Mr Cohen is an unscrupulous person?’ to which Mr Fryar responded, ‘Without any doubt…’. At another point in time, a peer-review was conducted by a pharmacist who referred to Mr Cohen as an ‘unscrupulous’ person who had ‘manipulated’ Mr Fryar. Indeed, throughout the Hearing and in his submissions, Mr Fryar spoke of being misled by Mr Cohen. My Fryar said that he was a trusting person who took Mr Cohen at face-value. Mr Fryar said that he was remorseful at what had transpired, and that he had no idea that Mr Cohen was doing the wrong thing. Mr Fryar accepted that he had made a mistake in trusting Mr Cohen, but he said that he did not stop to think that an established hair-regrowth business in Pitt Street could be acting so badly and endangering its clients.
Jonar Nader said, ‘I have been monitoring IHRB’s misconduct for four years, and I allege that IHRB is a complete and utter scam. The HCCC Commissioner Mr Kieran Pehm had concluded that Mr Sam Cohen of IHRB had “endangered the health and safety of his clients”. After noting that Mr Samuel Cohen ‘was not a reliable witness’ the Commissioner noted that IHRB was operating while unlicensed by a man who was unqualified. The Permanent Prohibition Order forbids IHRB from supplying or selling any medications. Yet, with the strength of my evidence, I allege that Mr Sam Cohen is still breaching these Orders , which is a criminal offence. Mr Cohen cannot be struck-off any register, because he is not on any register ! Meanwhile, his pharmacist has been struck-off. I believe that IHRB started using a new pharmacist whom I allege is also breaking the law. After the relationship with Mr Fryar broke down, Sam Cohen started to use the services of Elias Pharmacy of Fairfield .
‘IHRB’s advertisements were found by the Complaints Resolution Panel to be “unlawful, misleading, and unverified”  and were Sanctioned (notwithstanding allegations that IHRB tried to mislead the Panel ). The Sanctions were imposed over 523 days ago . Yet, to this day, IHRB is still operating and placing full-page advertisements , despite being told by the Panel to “withdraw the representations” and to “publish retractions” and to change its misleading website. IHRB has snubbed all the authorities, and continues, I allege, to scam innocent consumers.’
NSW FAIR TRADING NEEDS TO TAKE OVER
Jonar Nader is calling on NSW Fair Trading Minister, The Hon Anthony Roberts MP, to honour his commitment to rid NSW of scammers. Mr Nader said, ‘When Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts embraced his portfolio, he warned scammers that “there is a new sheriff in town”.’ Mr Nader added, ‘Clients of IHRB take their complaints to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) and they lose, because I allege that IHRB and its solicitor mislead the Tribunal, while Tribunal Members do not read the submissions, and do not even read the first paragraph of the Application. From my observations, when it comes to complex cases, CTTT has disintegrated into a waste of space. Mr Cohen already sports a criminal conviction for lying to CTTT . This took place 22 July 2011  with an attempt at an appeal  a short time later. I allege that he has continued to mislead every Department about every aspect of his business. I started to new Facebook page  to keep track of CTTT’s alleged incompetence.
‘Despite the pharmacist’s career now being shattered, and despite the Prohibition Orders and Sanctions, IHRB is still operating, claiming to have an exclusive hair-regrowth formula. If it had a formula, it would need to be Registered with the TGA , which it is not. It would need to be proved scientifically, which it is not. The ads would need Advertising Approval, which they do not have . IHRB uses common (Minoxidil ) and dangerous non-approved medications  (Loniten  and Proscar ) to regrow people’s hair, while clients  pay tens of thousands of dollars before they realise that they had been scammed. Minoxidil can be purchased for as low as $7 per bottle, yet IHRB’s price-list goes up to $900 per bottle after the $4,900 sign-on fee. IHRB has no secret formula . According to IHRB’s own pharmacists , Sam Cohen’s useless concoctions  have ‘no therapeutic effect’ and ‘no active ingredients’. It’s time for Minister Anthony Roberts to step-up to the mark and rid the State of this alleged scam.’
Jonar Nader added, ‘This case has an uncanny similarity to the Bernard Madoff  story in the USA where Mr Madoff was investigated four times by the Securities & Exchange Commission. On each occasion, he was cleared. When he finally gave himself up, a judge asked Mr Madoff how he eluded the authorities for so long. Mr Madoff replied that he was able to get away with his Ponzi Scheme for decades, because investigators never asked him the right questions. As a consumer advocate who has been investigating IHRB’s operation for four years, I am offering NSW Fair Trading my services to assist Fair Trading to ask the right questions. I suspect that with a few simple questions, IHRB could be shut down. The problem in NSW is that a scammer who has no qualms about lying through his teeth while under Oath, can get away with fantastic misconduct for decades, because the walls that separate each Department become shields behind which a scammer can hide.’