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Weak monitoring blamed for fake medicines on the market
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 18 - 01 - 2016

JEDDAH — Unauthorized medicines and pharmaceuticals are regularly marketed in the Kingdom and many Saudis blame a weak clearance and monitoring system for the unhealthy trend. Medicines that are proved to be dangerous to the patients are removed from the market only after several days, they say.
Mohammed Dahhas, executive director of inspections and implementation of laws at the Saudi Food and Drugs Authority (SFDA), said his organization has prevented entry of 1,705 pharmaceuticals and warned against eight fake drugs that were brought into the Kingdom illegally.
Saeed Al-Zahrani said the pharmaceutical market in the Kingdom has seen warnings about certain medicines and drugs before they are confiscated or withdrawn from the market.
"The most surprising thing is that how these medicines enter the market in the first place," he said. "Most of these dangerous drugs are withdrawn only after many people have already consumed them."
Yousuf Al-Najjar highlighted the danger posed by such medicines to public health. "Authorities should have prevented these drugs before they entered the market."
Saud Al-Garni urged the authorities to take quick action to remove dangerous drugs from the market and punish those who smuggle them into the Kingdom.
Dahhas said his organization had warned citizens and residents about using certain drugs last year. Zino Coffee, Xian Ling, Easy Slim, Paiyouji natural slimming capsule, AB Slim and VIP Royal Honey were some of them.
"Last year the authority warned against a number of dangerous drugs through the national center for medical alert and safety," he said.
"We have also restricted the use of Pregabalin to government and private hospitals and government health centers after knowing that it causes drowsiness and intoxication to some patients if misused," he explained.
Asked about the delay in giving warning to the public about dangerous medication, Dahhas said: "The authority had warned the public against using fake and unauthorized drugs. In fact, such medicines are not registered with the SFDA and enter the Kingdom illegally, making the monitoring difficult," he pointed out. These drugs are marketed by unauthorized agencies and shops, he added.
Dahhas insisted that fake drugs that have entered the market were not cleared by the authority. "We coordinate with the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, the Health Ministry, the Commerce and Industry Ministry and the Customs Control whenever we notice the sale of any dangerous or suspicious drug in order to take action," he explained.
Faisal Al-Zahrani, director of public relations at the Health Ministry, said the ministry was ready to coordinate with all relevant departments and agencies to protect the health of citizens and residents.
"There is permanent cooperation and partnership between the Health Ministry and the SFDA with regard to medicines from the time of their production until they reach the patients. We inform directorates of health in the regions about SFDA's directives to withdraw certain medicines," he said.
Al-Zahrani added: "All medicines at pharmacies are registered and their prices are fixed by the ministry."
Studies are continuing to reduce the side effects of certain medicines. "A medicine is withdrawn when it is found that its consumption would be harmful to patients."
He said the SFDA would not allow the import of pharmaceuticals whose sources and composition are not known, adding that it regularly warns the public against using such drugs. "The SFDA is responsible for sanctioning the entry of any medicine or pharmaceuticals into the Kingdom," he added.

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