Infant drug recall

Incorrect dosages given on some batches of Panadol for babies

Incorrect dosages given on some batches of Panadol for babies (©2015 Noni Edwards)

Panadol Suspension for infants and children has been removed from shelves across parts of the Middle East because the wrong dosage instructions are printed on boxes.

The manufacturer of the popular brand of paracetamol, GlaxoSmithKline, advised local health authorities of the error this week.

The United Arab Emirates Ministry of Health issued a circular advising parents to seek the advice of a medical professional when administering the pain-relief medicine to children.

“Dosage instructions on all 13 batches of the medicine available in the UAE have been printed wrongly,” said Dr Amin Hussain Al Amiri, the Assistant Undersecretary for Public Health Policy and Licensing Sector at the UAE Ministry.

“It is important that people follow doctors’ instructions because those will be based on the weight and age of the child,” said Dr Al Amiri.

Incorrect dosages printed on packaging for distribution across Middle East

(Image supplied by UAE Ministry of Health) Incorrect dosages printed on packaging for distribution across Middle East

The UAE circular does not specify which of the printed calculations are wrong or what the correct dosages should be but said an error in dosage could have adverse drug reactions and could lead to liver damage.

For families travelling to Gulf countries and those doing stopovers at airports in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha, who may not be able to consult a doctor, local health officials say it’s important to ask at the chemist for the correct dosage.

“People who buy this medicine over-the-counter, should follow instructions given by the pharmacists.” said Dr Al Amiri.

The UAE Ministry stopped short of issuing a recall, however.

“There is nothing wrong with the medicine but only with the dosage instructions printed on the box,” said Dr Al Amiri.

The UAE circular also asked hospital administrators, doctors and pharmacists to take note of the changes.

However on Friday, the UAE newspaper Khaleej Times said the pharmacists they’d contacted were not aware of the instructions.

Qatar’s Gulf Times reports that the Supreme Council of Health issued a recall to all pharmacies for batches N066 and N143 of Panadol 100ml syrup.

The Council says all other batches available in Qatar display safe guidelines.

Health officials in Kuwait ordered withdrawal of the medicine from the shelves immediately.

The Head of Drug Registration at the Kuwaiti Health Ministry, Rami Bebehani, is quoted by the country’s official news agency saying doctors should not prescribe the product until the error has been corrected.

UAE communications watchdog issues morality guidelines for Facebook

TRAFBThe UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has cautioned residents against using Facebook in a way that is contrary to public morals and the principles of Islam.

The new guidelines appear in the TRA’s ‘Facebook White Paper’, one of several in their series of social media white papers.

It says the laws of the UAE prohibit the publication of content which goes against the social and moral welfare of the UAE or any content that is offensive to a nation or its government.

In reference to Facebook, the white paper says:

Primarily, users should not tag other users without their consent. The UAE law contains broad provisions relating to the protection of privacy and reputation.

The TRA  cautions users against sharing their passwords or otherwise do anything that might jeopardize the security of their account.

The TRA is publishing an entire collection of  UAE Social Media White Papers for:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Yahoo/Flickr
  • LinkedIn
  • Gmail
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Apple Store
  • Blackberry
  • Keek

Full versions of the white papers and corresponding infographics will be accessible via the TRA’s official website.


WHO holds meeting to discuss MERS

MERSThe World Health Organization is holding a meeting in Geneva today, to discuss the latest developments related to the MERS coronavirus.

The Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, is a member of the coronavirus family, like SARS which first appeared in China in 2002.

Both strains of the virus are believed to have originated first in animals, then mutated to infect humans.

First reported two years ago in Saudi Arabia, MERS causes fever, pneumonia and even kidney failure.

Cases have also been detected elsewhere in the Middle East, including the UAE, as well as in Europe and now two cases in the United States.

Around a quarter of the 480 people who have been diagnosed with MERS in Saudi Arabia, have died from it.

A spokesman for the World Health Organisation, Tarik Jasarevic, said they recently sent an expert team to KSA to study the latest developments in transmission of the disease.

jasarevic“We had a team of experts that visited a couple of weeks ago Saudi Arabia, looking into why this latest surge and whether there was any specific change in the transmissibility of the viruses.”

Although many patients in a recent outbreak in Jeddah appear to have caught the disease in hospitals, MERS has been found in bats and camels, and many experts believe camels are the animal from which humans are becoming infected.

Last week, the WHO advised people at most risk of severe disease to avoid contact with camels; take precautions when visiting places where the animals are present and to avoid drinking raw milk.

At today’s meeting in Geneva, a committee will review the situation in affected countries, and look at the report by the expert team.

“The recent surge in number of cases that we have seen in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as some cases that have been exported to other countries, raised public concern and raised questions whether the virus has changed in any way and this is what members of emergency committee will be looking into,” said Jasarevic.

Based on today’s meeting, the committee will consider the experts’ report and advise the director-general on next steps.

As broadcast on Emirates News.

New Dubai refinery set to tip balance of global gold industry

emirati-goldOne of the world’s biggest gold refineries is under construction at Dubai Multi Commodities Centre.

When completed next year, it will help to alter the balance of power in the global gold industry.

While the growth in global demand for gold is shifting east to Asia’s fast-growing economies, key industry activities like refining and clearing remain dominated by Europe and the United States.

But the construction of a new 60 million dollar refinery, by Kaloti Precious Metals, is part of efforts to change that pattern.

So is the plan by the Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange to introduce a spot gold contract this June.

kalotiMunir al Kaloti, who’s president and founder of Kaloti Precious metals, says Dubai currently represents only 11 percent of the world’s gold business but by 2020 this percentage is expected to grow to around 40 percent, becoming one the highest in the world.

Kaloti’s new refinery will have an annual capacity of 1,400 tonnes of gold making it more than three times the size of any of the UAE’s current refineries.

Current annual capacity in the United Arab Emirates is about eight hundred tonnes, including a 450-tonne refinery already operated by Kaloti.

Switzerland dominates the industry with over 3,000 tonnes, accounting for roughly 50 percent or more of global refining.

But nearly 40 percent of the world’s physical gold trade passed through Dubai last year, according to the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre.

The value of gold import and export contracts handled by Dubai has soared from 6 billion dollars in 2003, to 75 billion this year.

Dubai’s drive to develop exchange-based trading may be as important to its growth as a gold centre as expansion of its refining capacity.
goldbullionIn April, the Dubai Gold and Commodities Exchange, which currently trades gold futures, said it would introduce a spot gold contract this June.

The exchange is in the final stages of finalising specifications but the contract is expected to be for 1 kg of 0.995 purity gold, the type favoured by Indian consumers and investors.

If Dubai succeeds, it will be a new example of how the emirate can use its proximity to top consumers in India and China, its low-tax environment and highly developed transport sector to gain influence in industries traditional dominated by other players.

Originally broadcast on Emirates News

Desert conservation efforts go hand-in-hand with tourism

oryxA desert conservation program on the outskirts of Dubai has managed two very different business goals, side-by-side. It’s achieved great success breeding local endangered species, while simultaneously developing a marketable tourism product.

Fifteen years ago there were no known Arabian oryx left in the wild in the UAE.

Hunting and over development had seen populations wiped out.

Today however, thanks to a successful breeding programme, and the preservation of their habitat, there are 350 oryx in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve.

It was established in 1999 as Dubai’s first conservation area and right from the start it involved building an eco-style hotel within a 27 sq. km reserve.

As well as protecting a piece of desert from development the area would house the breeding programme for the Arabian oryx.

simkinThe Centre’s conservation manager, Greg Simkins, says it plays a major role in local conservation efforts.

“I think if we didn’t create that protected area – the Dubai Conservation Reserve – at the time we did I think we wouldn’t have much natural areas left within Dubai. The rapid development that’s happened, the city’s grown exponentially really over time since then so we’ve been able to create this representative of the Dubai desert,” he says.

Captive oryx were brought over from the United States. At the time it was a revolutionary idea and the first of its kind in the UAE.

“So after the initial area had been set up we also looked at the surrounding desert areas and we saw there was massive impacts happening onto the natural environment there through things like vehicles out in the desert, rubbish and then over grazing as well. We then looked at creating this large protected area,” says Simkin.

Three years later, 200 sq. km of land was added to the reserve which now makes up five per cent of the emirate of Dubai.

More than 35,000 indigenous trees have been planted, and apart from protecting several endangered species the reserve is a major contributor to local scientific research and conservation efforts.

camelTo ensure the programme’s commercial viability, the Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa was established, to appeal to high-end travellers from both the UAE and around the world, according to their general manager, Arne Silvis.

“We find also that people who stay with us often return. We have a fairly high repeat guest percentage,” says Silvis, “and many of these guests on the second and third trips or visits to Dubai they come straight from the airport to us for five or six nights and just relax in the desert. I think the peace and silence and tranquility is what really sets us apart.”

Gmahauest activities focus on educating visitors about desert ecology and the UAE’s bedouin traditions and culture and 100% of all visitor revenue is spent on conservation and wildlife care.

It’s the largest national park in the UAE and is officially protected under the constitution, to ensure it continues to operate as a National Park well into the future.

Chinese New Year heralds tourism influx for Dubai

Credit: Emirates News

Dubai is welcoming a surge in Chinese tourists who are fast becoming some of the biggest overseas spenders, globally.

This weekend marks Chinese New Year, the beginning of the lunar Year of the Horse, but for many well-to-do Chinese it’s a time for an overseas vacation and some luxury retail therapy.

Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing has recognised the value of the Chinese yuan – with around a quarter of a million visitors a year, up 28 per cent annually, according to their most recent figures.

Courtesy of UAE Interact / UAE National Media Council

DTCM has strengthened its focus this year, targeting Chinese tourists with valuable offers and discounts, especially during festivals like this weekend’s Chinese New Year.

Dubai’s world famous brands and labels, and favorable prices continually draw the Chinese, who are among the top consumers of luxury products, but constantly on the lookout for cheaper options than their domestic offerings, which attract taxes as high as 40 per cent.

For those who travel here, duty-free shopping was listed among the major attractions for Chinese tourists.

Elmo Kaidullah is the manager of the world’s largest shopping center, The Dubai Mall, and he says Chinese consumers are spending more now on every single purchase than consumers from any other countries.

“We recognize that they are becoming more acute in details, looking after more specific information, they are much more aware about the trend, the changes, the new comers, the new launches in the market,” says Kaidullah.

He says Chinese shoppers generally prefer leather bags, watches, accessories and cosmetics.

He added that their consumption habits have continually evolved with times as they are becoming better informed and more familiar with luxury products.

The DTCM says much of the growth in tourism can be attributed to destination marketing, and as of September last year, they now have four offices based in mainland China.

Originally broadcast on Emirates News, 31 January 2014