Misuse of medical drugs caused 45 deaths in UAE in three years: MoI
Dubai - The biggest haul of controlled medicines being smuggled into the UAE from an Asian country was in 2017.
At least 45 deaths have been reported in the UAE over the past three years due to the direct misuse of medical drugs, according to a senior official from the Ministry of Interior (MoI).
Brigadier Saeed Al Suwaidi, director general of the Anti-Drug Federal Directorate-General at the MoI, said the number of deaths from usage of medical drugs was highest in 2013 at 27. "In 2017, there were 13 cases and in 2018 there were five cases," he said, while addressing the third Emirates International Conference on Falsified and Substandard Medical Products on Wednesday.
He said the ministry was working with the Ministry of Health and Prevention (Mohap) to control the entry of substandard medicines into the country. The biggest haul of controlled medicines being smuggled into the UAE from an Asian country was in 2017 weighing 52,809kg. In 2016, the authorities identified a haul of 1,430 kg and in 2018, 4,413kg of medicines were caught while being smuggled.
"We have set up an online platform to monitor drugs to stop misuse by some patients," he said.
He also said that laboratory has been set up to check the chemical composition of all medicines. "This will help us identify falsified medicines," he said.
Dr Amin Al Amiri, assistant undersecretary of the public health policy and licensing sector at the Mohap, said that falsified medicines know no border. "A falsified product can be made in a country, exported to another country and infiltrated through a wholesaler into the legal distribution chain, or purchased on the Internet anywhere in the world," he said.
"Such medicines harm patients and undermine confidence in medical products, healthcare professionals and health systems," he added.
Giving statistics, he said that the ministry had reported 2,042 adverse drug reactions (ADR) in 2018 and 1,284 since the beginning of this year. In 2019, the pharmacovigilance committee has sent out 50 memorandums, retrieved 50 products, issued 13 warnings for unregistered products, caught 12 falsified herbal products and one false product.
"Cooperation amongst all concerned stakeholders across UAE is a must including national regulatory bodies, private organizations, health professionals, patients, research-based and generic pharmaceutical manufacturers, drug distributors, wholesalers and retailers," said Dr Amiri.
Globally, of all counterfeit medicines detected in the legitimate supply chain are life-saving drugs of which 21 per cent are infective medicines, 11.6 per cent are cardiovascular drugs, 11 per cent are medicines for the central nervous system and 9.1 per cent are for the alimentary system.
Michael Deats, group lead for the surveillance and monitoring, safely and vigilance, essential medicines and health products at the WHO, said that not all countries have rules and regulations like the UAE does.