Doctors violate prescription law



ABU DHABI // Doctors have been illegally prescribing themselves controlled drugs, an official investigation has found. The Health Authority - Abu Dhabi (HAAD) conducted spot checks on pharmacies, and found a number of violations after inspecting prescription pads in pharmacies.

The authority would not say which drugs had been illegally prescribed, but the Ministry of Health list of controlled substances includes Valium, tramadol and diazepam. In February, HAAD told health facilities and pharmacies that its inspectors had identified doctors "prescribing controlled drugs for themselves and subsequently being dispensed by pharmacists". The inspectors had also been checking for pharmacies that were selling counterfeit medicines, stocking out-of-date medicines, or selling prescription-only drugs over the counter.

The memo urged pharmacists to verify patients' names when dispensing controlled drugs. Dr Mohammed Abuelkhair, the head of drugs and medical product regulation section at HAAD, said doctors had to follow the same procedures as other patients to obtain prescription-only drugs. "The procedure is the same for all patients," he said. "Health professionals must consult a doctor or specialist in order to obtain their prescriptions."

Dr Abuelkhair said the exact drugs the doctors had prescribed themselves were irrelevant, but that there was an "expansive list of controlled drugs with various therapeutic categories". Dr Abuelkhair said anyone found breaching either of the relevant laws would be fined. It is also understood that their cases could be passed on to the police. Self-prescribing is illegal in many parts of the world. The General Medical Council in the UK said doctors should not treat themselves and should be registered with another, independent GP.

Over the past year health authorities across the Emirates have introduced tougher rules for pharmacies and the distribution of drugs. In the Ministry of Health's draft National Pharmacy Programme for 2008-2010, it was estimated that about 70 per cent of pharmacists sell antibiotics over the counter, which is also illegal. It also said outdated standards of pharmacy practice had led to "poor standards of patient care and will inhibit the growth of the profession's value to the country".

In April the ministry, which has jurisdiction over the northern Emirates, wrote to more than 1,100 pharmacies demanding that they perform monthly inspections to check for possible breaches of the pharmacy law, or risk having their licences revoked. It also warned that it was giving its inspectors more power to close pharmacies acting illegally. One of the other problem areas in the sector is counterfeit medicine. Last year The National revealed that a proposed pharmacy law included much tougher penalties particularly for those who make or sell counterfeit drugs.

HAAD described the practice as "a vile and serious criminal offence that puts human lives at risk and undermines the credibility of the health system". Next week, delegates at the Dubai International Pharmaceuticals and Technologies Conference will discuss the new law and better ways to regulate the sector. Dr Ali al Sayed, the director of the pharmaceutical services department at Dubai Health Authority, said last week many pharmacists needed educating about their role.

Dr al Sayed said: "We want to educate the pharmacists about how they can better educate the public. The public may see pharmacists as doctors but they are not, they are guides." @Email:munderwood@thenational.ae

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Company name: Nomad Homes
Started: 2020
Founders: Helen Chen, Damien Drap, and Dan Piehler
Based: UAE and Europe
Industry: PropTech
Funds raised so far: $44m
Investors: Acrew Capital, 01 Advisors, HighSage Ventures, Abstract Ventures, Partech, Precursor Ventures, Potluck Ventures, Knollwood and several undisclosed hedge funds

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Company: Growdash
Started: July 2022
Founders: Sean Trevaskis and Enver Sorkun
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Restaurant technology
Funding so far: $750,000
Investors: Flat6Labs, Plus VC, Judah VC, TPN Investments and angel investors, including former Talabat chief executive Abdulhamid Alomar, and entrepreneur Zeid Husban

The specs

Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Power: 620hp from 5,750-7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm from 3,000-5,750rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed dual-clutch auto
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Price: From Dh1.05 million ($286,000)

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Our legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

TOURNAMENT INFO

Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier

Jul 3- 14, in the Netherlands
The top two teams will qualify to play at the World T20 in the West Indies in November

UAE squad
Humaira Tasneem (captain), Chamani Seneviratne, Subha Srinivasan, Neha Sharma, Kavisha Kumari, Judit Cleetus, Chaya Mughal, Roopa Nagraj, Heena Hotchandani, Namita D’Souza, Ishani Senevirathne, Esha Oza, Nisha Ali, Udeni Kuruppuarachchi

Company profile

Name: WonderTree
Started: April 2016
Co-founders: Muhammad Waqas and Muhammad Usman
Based: Karachi, Pakistan, Abu Dhabi, UAE, and Delaware, US
Sector: Special education, education technology, assistive technology, augmented reality
Number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Growth
Investors: Grants from the Lego Foundation, UAE's Anjal Z, Unicef, Pakistan's Ignite National Technology Fund

Specs: 2024 McLaren Artura Spider

Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 and electric motor
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If you go...

Etihad flies daily from Abu Dhabi to Zurich, with fares starting from Dh2,807 return. Frequent high speed trains between Zurich and Vienna make stops at St. Anton.

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Pupils in Abu Dhabi are learning the importance of being active, eating well and leading a healthy lifestyle now and throughout adulthood, thanks to a newly launched programme 'Healthy Lifestyle'.

As part of the Healthy Lifestyle programme, specially trained coaches from City Football Schools, along with Healthpoint physicians have visited schools throughout Abu Dhabi to give fun and interactive lessons on working out regularly, making the right food choices, getting enough sleep and staying hydrated, just like their favourite footballers.

Organised by Manchester City FC and Healthpoint, Manchester City FC’s regional healthcare partner and part of Mubadala’s healthcare network, the ‘Healthy Lifestyle’ programme will visit 15 schools, meeting around 1,000 youngsters over the next five months.

Designed to give pupils all the information they need to improve their diet and fitness habits at home, at school and as they grow up, coaches from City Football Schools will work alongside teachers to lead the youngsters through a series of fun, creative and educational classes as well as activities, including playing football and other games.

Dr Mai Ahmed Al Jaber, head of public health at Healthpoint, said: “The programme has different aspects - diet, exercise, sleep and mental well-being. By having a focus on each of those and delivering information in a way that children can absorb easily it can help to address childhood obesity."

Know before you go
  • Jebel Akhdar is a two-hour drive from Muscat airport or a six-hour drive from Dubai. It’s impossible to visit by car unless you have a 4x4. Phone ahead to the hotel to arrange a transfer.
  • If you’re driving, make sure your insurance covers Oman.
  • By air: Budget airlines Air Arabia, Flydubai and SalamAir offer direct routes to Muscat from the UAE.
  • Tourists from the Emirates (UAE nationals not included) must apply for an Omani visa online before arrival at evisa.rop.gov.om. The process typically takes several days.
  • Flash floods are probable due to the terrain and a lack of drainage. Always check the weather before venturing into any canyons or other remote areas and identify a plan of escape that includes high ground, shelter and parking where your car won’t be overtaken by sudden downpours.

 

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Founder: John Tsioris and Ioanna Angelidaki

Based: Dubai

Sector: Online grocery delivery

Staff: 200

Funding: Undisclosed, but investors include the Jabbar Internet Group and Venture Friends

Western Region Asia Cup T20 Qualifier

Sun Feb 23 – Thu Feb 27, Al Amerat, Oman

The two finalists advance to the Asia qualifier in Malaysia in August

 

Group A

Bahrain, Maldives, Oman, Qatar

 

Group B

UAE, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia

The Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi’s Arabic Language Centre will mark International Women’s Day at the Bologna Children's Book Fair with the Abu Dhabi Translation Conference. Prolific Emirati author Noora Al Shammari, who has written eight books that feature in the Ministry of Education's curriculum, will appear in a session on Wednesday to discuss the challenges women face in getting their works translated.