Bahrain clamp on online medicines
Manama , June 14, 2011
Medications ordered on the Internet are now subject to strict screening by Bahrain’s customs officers, said a senior Health Ministry official.
It is part of a crackdown on potentially harmful counterfeit and herbal drugs not licensed for use in Bahrain, added Health Ministry pharmacy and drug control director Sahar Al Qahtani.
Recipients of parcels containing medications are now being summoned for questioning before they are handed over, she said.
'The addressee is questioned on the consignment and the parcel is handed over after a thorough check and testing,' Al Qahtani said on the sidelines of a workshop on counterfeit drugs at the Ritz-Carlton Bahrain Hotel and Spa. 'If we are not convinced with the answers, the parcel is confiscated.'
She revealed that the biggest danger in Bahrain was not counterfeit drugs, but herbal drugs and other 'concoctions' known to be harmful.
'Herbal tea and coffee, which claim to help people slim down; drugs claiming to cure cancer and diabetes; as well as those with a magical cure for obesity and those claiming to enhance sexual performance are the most in demand,' she revealed. 'These contain a large quantity of heavy metals and other non-pharmaceutical ingredients and are dangerous for human consumption.'
Despite border checks, Al Qahtani admitted some people still managed to sneak such products into Bahrain.
However, she said tests conducted on seized medications revealed they contained either few active ingredients, no active ingredients at all or ingredients of unknown value.
Some patients even stop taking drugs prescribed by licensed doctors in favour of 'magical cures', she added.
'What is unfortunate is that most people who start on these so-called magical cures stop their regular medications and end up with severe complications,' she said. 'We have seen a large number of cases in hospital as a result.'
She went on to advise anyone who insisted on taking mystery medications - which originate mainly in China, India and other Asian countries - to also continue with their prescriptions.
The workshop was opened by Health Ministry Under-Secretary Dr Abdul Hai Al Awadhi and attended by officials from the Interior, Health and Industry and Commerce ministries. – TradeArabia News Service