Doctor fined $10k for forging prescription while under suspension

Khoo Buk Kwong was fined $10,000 for dishonestly making a document.
Khoo Buk Kwong was fined $10,000 for dishonestly making a document. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

SINGAPORE - A doctor was under a year-long suspension when he forged a prescription for 100 slimming pills for his former wife.

Khoo Buk Kwong alias Khoo Jian Yuan, 55, was on Friday (July 14) fined $10,000 for dishonestly making a document dated Dec 1, 2014, for 100 capsules of Duromine, purported to be issued by Dr Handry Gumanti of Shenton Medical, with intent to commit fraud, some time in December 2014. He pleaded guilty.

A second charge of forgery was taken into consideration in sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor David Koh said that in June 2014, Khoo was suspended from practice for a total of 12 months.

He worked as a relief doctor at the Shenton Medical Jurong Point clinic from April 2013 to May 2014.

While he was employed at the clinic, he obtained a name stamp bearing Dr Gumanti's name. Dr Gumanti, who previously worked at the clinic, left the name stamp behind when he quit on April 1, 2013.

Some time in December 2014, Khoo's former wife, Madam Angeline Wee Ai Keng, asked him to help her obtain Duromine capsules. Duromine contains phentermine, which acts as an appetite suppressant. The weight control tablet is a prescription drug.

Khoo took a Parkway Shenton memo sheet, wrote his name, NRIC number and the words "Duromine 30mg". He stamped Dr Gumanti's name on the memo sheet and dated it Dec 1, 2014. He then signed above Dr Gumanti's stamp.

On Jan 9, 2015, he presented the forged prescription to a duty pharmacist at Unity Pharmacy in Clementi Mall, Commonwealth Avenue West, and obtained three boxes of Duromine capsules which he later passed to Madam Wee.

The court heard that Khoo did not comply with Ministry of Health guidelines issued to doctors in February 2009 on the use of phentermine.

In his police statement concerning the forged prescription, Khoo claimed that he could easily have backdated the prescription to June 2014, when he was still practising, and that it would have been fine to stamp his own name on the prescription.

The matter came to light when the pharmacist contacted the staff of Shenton Medical Jurong Point clinic on Jan 9, 2015, to ask if Dr Gumanti was still working there. The staff noted that the prescription was dated after Dr Gumanti's last date of employment.

A police report was made.

Seeking a $10,000 fine, DPP Koh said Khoo should have shown more care and regard for healthcare regulations which were binding on him and all Singaporeans.

He said that forgery offences were relatively easy to commit but hard to detect.

"He has demonstrated that he will resort to illegal behaviour when it suits his interests," said the DPP.

He told District Judge Carol Ling that it was Khoo's 2011 conviction for selling codeine and promethazine that led to his suspension. Khoo had been fined $60,000 on six counts under the Poisons Act.

Khoo's lawyer, Mr Amolat Singh, said in mitigation that his client did not do this to benefit himself or for financial gain. He committed this "silly mistake" when he was under suspension, he said.

He added that Khoo did not put anybody in danger, and the father of three had vowed never to get into any trouble with the law again.

Khoo could have been jailed for up to four years and/or fined for forgery.