BY PMA RASHEED
The Gulf Today, 30 Sept 2010
A special committee has been set up under the health ministry to screen the trading of narcotic drugs and prevent abuse of such medicines in the UAE.
All sorts of medical products in the narcotic substances category will be monitored by the committee, before being in circulation in the pharmaceutical market, indicated a Ministry of Health (MoH) official.
The UAE Minister of Health Dr Hanif Hassan Ali Al Qassim issued a ministerial decision to form the special narcotics committee, which will be chaired by Dr Amin Al Amiri, Executive Director for Medical Practices and Licensing at the MoH. He said, "About 24 medicines have been listed as narcotic drugs, which cause mental disorders and adverse effects in the consumers."
"Such medicinal products should be given to the customers only with an approved medical prescription. The MoH aims to further prevent malpractices in the use of medicines, by setting up the stringent drugs monitoring mechanism," he added.
"The committee will coordinate with doctors and medical practitioners as well as other healthcare authorities to regulate import of the narcotic drugs, and implementing surveillance measures. All the stocks at medical and pharmaceutical establishments will be inspected by the committee," pointed out Dr Amiri.
"Sub committees will also be formed to study certain articles of the penal code concerning narcotic drugs abuse, according to the new international regulations and rapid changes concerning narcotic drugs and their abuse," he said.
According to him, the MoH follows international guidelines in implementing regulations to control the consumption and trading of medicines in the narcotic and psychotropic drugs categories.
"The United Nations International Drugs Control Agency had issued warnings on the negative impacts due to the misuse of narcotic medicines, which may cause mental, physical and behavioral changes in the users," he noted.
"The MoH has implemented the decisions of the international authority for drugs control (INCB), in coordination with the ministries and authorised departments including the Ministry of Interior and Federal Customs Authority."
"The new committee will define the best practices in implementation of the cabinet's decision No.39/2009, concerning the amendments of the federal law No.14/1995. The federal law No.4/1983 on pharmaceutical sector had enforced that import of narcotic medicinal products into the UAE only to be permitted with prior approval from the MoH," he elaborated.
Dr Amiri stated that the MoH is the only authority to supervise the import and consumption of such substances in the country.
"The MoH's aim is to raise awareness on pharmaceutical products that cause negative side effects, and educate them so as to avoid addiction threats arising out of drug abuse."
"The MoH also will liaise with cargo establishments to implement methods to control import procedures through online pharmacies, so to prevent such activities that boost trafficking of counterfeit drugs in the country," he said.