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Plan to Ban Medicines Re-export

The UAE will soon end re-exporting of medicinal drugs from its ports to curb a growing regional trade in counterfeit products, according to a senior health official.

Nearly one per cent of the fake detected in the European Union comes from the UAE, said Dr Amin Al Amiri, CEO, Medical Practice and License at the UAE Health Ministry.

In 2007, $5.4 million worth of medicines were seized by UAE authorities in the region’s largest such raid.

During the first five months of 2008, Dubai Customs seized and destroyed 293 tonnes of counterfeit medical products, he said, while pointing out the scale of the problem the country was battling.

Since January this year, the ministry has banned entry of medical and diagnostic devices into the country without its approval.

“All such devices are also required to be registered with the ministry,” said Dr Al Amiri.

The UAE is also on the verge of ratifying the updated Federal Pharmacy Law that spells out jails terms and huge financial penalties for those involved in such crimes.

“The ministry has prepared a draft federal law in this regard that will include legalities commensurate with the magnitude of the problem,” UAE Minister of Health Dr Hanif Hassan said in a statement.

“The bill will develop and control methods to eliminate or at least to reduce such illegal activity by placing stiff penalties on offenders,” he said.

“The global trade movement of counterfeit (medicines) includes Europe as well as the Middle East region,” said How, adding that worldwide, countries were taking effective steps to curb the incidents.”In 2008, China made 162 arrests while 188 people were arrested in this region from 2006-2008,” he explained. As part of a global raid operation, which took place across 25 countries in 2008, 794 websites were found to be engaged in illegal activities, including selling of counterfeit drugs.

In 2008, $3.1 million worth of Pfizer counterfeit drugs were seized in the region. “It is not only expensive drugs that are duplicated but even common ones such as Ponstan,” said Steve Allen, Pfizer’s senior director for Global Security.

“This is because people would prefer buying a drug from a known company rather than an unknown,” he said, adding that 30 of the company’s well known drugs including Viagra, Ponstan, Xanax and weight loss drug Lipitor had been copied.

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