BY PMA RASHEED
The Gulf Today, 31 Jan 2010
Widely used weight-loss medication Sibutramine - available in the UAE market - can be consumed without fear, according to the UAE Ministry of Health (MoH).
The announcement comes in light of tougher warnings issued by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on chances of attendant risks from usage of the weight-loss drug by cardiac patients.
The FDA had reviewed that the medicine indicated an increased risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with a history of cardiovascular disease using sibutramine, marketed as the weight-loss medication Meridia.
A senior health official has confirmed all the data and information related to the drug commercially named as Reductil, had shown that it was safe for consumption.
Dr Ameen Hussain Al Amiri, Executive Director for Medical Practices and License at the Ministry of Health (MoH), said that the ministry noted that the medicine need not be pulled out from the local market. Cardiac patients, however, should take the advice of their physician before using the medicine, Al Amiri added.
"Meanwhile, the UAE health minister received a notification from the producers of Tylenol drugs that the pharmaceutical company would pull out some containers of the over-the-counter pain relief medicine that were subject to complications of chemical changes in three countries," he explained.
The MoH had earlier informed all the doctors and pharmacists in the UAE's public and private health sector as well as other competent authorities, to avoid prescription of the Tylenol that had been affected with serious taste and odour change and risk of nausea and other sickness symptoms for consumers.
The decision was made on request from the drug manufacturers as part of a precautionary measure. As per the information provided by the company, select batches of the drug were proved to be causing dizziness due to its odour and taste.
An earlier statement issued by Johnson & Johnson Middle East had stated that the affected batches in the UAE included only two products - Tylenol arthritis and Tylenol extra that were marketed in the country in mid-2009. Meanwhile, the company clarified that no children's drug has been affected.
Al Amiri pointed out that all Tylenol containers found to be in breach of the technical specifications of both public and private hospitals and pharmacies in the UAE, have been removed from the market.
According to him, all forms of the Tylenol medicine currently in the market were safe.
Following that the MoH had ordered a recall of the widely-used pain and fever relief drug. However, no complaints have been received in the UAE. In the event of such situations, the MoH requested residents to lodge complaints on 02-6117391/02-6313742 or fax at 02-6313742, or e-mail at email@example.com.