Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 7 December 2019

UAE's new online prescription platform to tackle drug abuse

From Monday, an integrated system will allow hospitals to keep track of all controlled medication

The government is working to clamp down on addicts using the same prescription to get controlled medicines from multiple doctors and hospitals. Mitchell Prothero / The National
The government is working to clamp down on addicts using the same prescription to get controlled medicines from multiple doctors and hospitals. Mitchell Prothero / The National

A new online platform for drug prescriptions is set to be rolled out across the UAE as part of efforts to clamp down on substance abuse.

From Monday, any patient requiring controlled opioids such as morphine will have their full details logged on a single database accessible by medics across the country.

The move aims to prevent individuals from obtaining multiple doses of highly addictive drugs by seeking the same prescription from both government and private hospitals in the UAE.

Experts hope the change will prevent drug abuse - for example - from patients who could approach more than one doctor to obtain potentially dangerous repeat prescriptions.

“The main objective is to ensure greater control over the prescription and dispersal of narcotic drugs and controlled medicines,” said Dr Khaled Al Jaberi, of the Department of Health.

“[This is] with a view to reducing the illegal use of controlled medicines among the community and to promote the safety of their use to their intended beneficiaries only.

“The new platform will also reduce inefficiencies caused by the loss of paper prescriptions in addition to ensuring accurate tracking of prescriptions and dispersal of drugs and controlled medicines at state level.”

The new system - called the Unified Electronic Platform - was led by the Ministry of Interior in co-operation with the Ministry of Health and Abu Dhabi Department of Health.

It aims to combine all of the country’s private and government sector outpatient healthcare facilities into a single database.

Patients will no longer be able to have repeat doses prescribed to them from multiple doctors across multiple hospitals or emirates.

Instead, information on their medication needs will be available to all healthcare facilities, allowing doctors to prevent unwarranted prescriptions.

The change of policy will also see an end to paper prescriptions for controlled substances which can be lost or even stolen, sometimes resulting in drugs falling into the wrong hands.

“If the patient goes to any other clinic or physician for the same medication, the system will clearly show that he or she has an active prescription and has just received his medication,” said Dr Al Jaberi.

“So there will not be an oversupply of medications. We are sure it will result in a lower number of prescriptions.

“We can also now monitor numbers of prescriptions, doctors who have prescribed them, where they [patients] are getting their prescriptions from, type of medications and so on.

“We can access all the information and prevent any abuse. This is one of the biggest and most important initiatives to control [drug abuse].

Updated: June 30, 2019 06:32 PM

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