Pharmacy shut down for fake medicines

A pharmacy that sold counterfeit drugs has been shut for two months by the Health Authority-Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // A pharmacy that sold counterfeit drugs has been shut for two months. The Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD), which yesterday announced the results of a recent inspection drive, also revoked the licences of the pharmacist and pharmacy assistant for selling the potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals. The license of another pharmacist who purchased the drugs was suspended for one month.

The authority also ordered the destruction of all the stock in a second pharmacy because it was not storing its drugs properly. The pharmacy had not been paying its electricity bills and its power had been shut off several times, which violated "all the medicine storage standards and affected the medicine validity". As is its policy, the authority did not name any of the pharmacies. Dr Jamal al Kaabi, the authority's chief investigator, said it was often difficult for ordinary people members to spot fake drugs because the counterfeiters had become very good at making them look similar to the originals. The WHO estimates that as much as 10 per cent of pharmaceuticals in the global supply chain are counterfeit.

"They may look almost identical, but the ingredients will be different and this is potentially dangerous," he said. "It will not do what it is meant to do. We need to educate pharmacists and take a preventive approach." Pharmacists should only purchase pharmaceuticals from registered distributors and be wary of any "special deals", which could indicate they may be fake. "When we find out about counterfeit medicines we trace it back to the source to make sure it doesn't enter the market again."

Dr Ali Obaid al Ali, the chairman of HAAD's licensing committee and the director of its health regulation division, said the inspectors issued warnings to several other pharmacies.