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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Health ministry questions ‘painkiller use’ survey

By PMA RASHEED
15 Sept 2010, The Gulf Today

The federal health watchdog has questioned the authenticity of a recent global pharmaceutical survey which claimed that the UAE residents ranked highest among the users of painkillers in the world.
The study, carried out by market research establishment Synovate, revealed that 72 per cent of the UAE residents purchased painkillers in the first half of the current year.
A top official from the Ministry of Health (MoH) had exclusively told The Gulf Today in May that the authorities had not been communicated about the study that said most UAE residents depend on over-the-counter (OTC) medicines even for slight headaches, signs of cold or flu, or other minor ailments.
Dr Amin Al Amiri, Executive Director for Medical Practices and Licenses at the MoH, had ruled out that the current health conditions of the residents or the health policies of the UAE cannot be measured based on these kinds of surveys.
In reference to the same report published in a local Arabic daily a couple of days ago, the MoH on Tuesday called the research institution to discuss the procedures it used in implementing the study as well as the results, subjectivity and categories.
Dr Amiri clarified that all kinds of medicines, including herbals, reach the patients in the UAE after stringent monitoring procedures and with the approval of MoH’s higher committee for pharmaceutical vigilance.
“The health ministry ensures highest safety of all types of medicines, which are continuously monitored and checked against misuse,” he added.
According to him, the MoH supervises the consumption of medicines in cooperation with all local health authorities in the UAE as well as international drugs associations including the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) in the US and European and Australian Drugs Authorities.
The market study said the UK and Australia are also big purchasers of pain relief medications, at 62 and 61 per cent respectively, without doctor’s prescription, while the painkillers are least popular in Taiwan at only 10 per cent, followed by Hong Kong at 15 per cent, and Chile at 17 per cent.
Per-Henrik Karlsson, Dubai-based Business Development Director for Synovate in Central and Eastern Europe and the Middle East, had told The Gulf Today that being health-conscious is relatively new for many of the local and expatriate populations in the UAE.
“When medication is required, cough or cold medicines, at 40 per cent, and pain relievers at 38 per cent, were at the top of shopping lists of OTC medications bought by people globally in the last six months,” disclosed the study that covered almost 12,000 people from across 15 countries.
Meanwhile, Dr Amiri pointed out: “The UAE has implemented international regulations and guidelines for the permitted range of the OTC medicines available at supermarkets. The UAE National Committee for Bio-Equivalence has also finalised a list of OTC medications sold at supermarkets.”
(Image used for illustrative purpose only)

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