Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 February 2020

New mobile app to help detect counterfeit medicine

Counterfeit or poor quality medicines are thought to kill hundreds of thousands of people each year

Abdulrahman Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention. The National    
Abdulrahman Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention. The National    

An new app that detects counterfeit medical products on sale in the UAE is about to be launched.

Officials said the programme would allow users to identify if drugs were legitimate by scanning the barcode displayed on packaging.

The move comes as the growth of the counterfeit drug market continues to increase exponentially.

Counterfeit or poor-quality medicines are thought to kill hundreds of thousands of people each year, of whom more than 250,000 are children.

Speaking at the Federal National Council on Tuesday, Abdulrahman Al Owais, the Minister of Health and Prevention, welcomed the mobile app.

He said UAE health inspectors were constantly picking medicines at random from retailers to test their authenticity.

“We have shut down a number of facilities that proved to be producing or selling non-original products, inside and outside the country,” he said.

Currently, any medical product that enters the UAE passes through a series of regulatory checks.

Mr Al Owais gave the example of drugs that were ordered from abroad for his mother.

Initially, the medicine was withheld by the ministry to ensure the product was genuine. Officials released the drug once it was proved to be safe.

“There were a number of medications ordered for my mother that were held back by the ministry [for testing],” he said.

“So I have personally had this experience and I am proud of it.”

Mr Al Owais went on to discuss a second health initiative set to be rolled out across the Emirates.

He said a new policy would soon allow hospitals across the country to share patient medical records.

The initiative is designed in part to prevent drug addicts visiting numerous hospitals to pick up more medicine than they need.

But it will also help doctors treat patients who have moved addresses and are seeking treatment from different specialists.

Updated: February 12, 2020 09:06 AM

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