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.

Abu Dhabi Invitational attracts Pro-Am talent from all walks of life


Credit: Emirates News

Abu Dhabi has hosted the HSBC Championship event since 2006 and in that time, has quickly established itself as a favourite for players and spectators alike, becoming one of the biggest on the European Tour.


Rory McIlroy (courtesy of Emirates News)

The Abu Dhabi Charity Invitational is a Pro-Am contest held in the lead-up to the main event that gives the pros a chance to warm up and test their skills especially after the long break in December, while the amateurs get a once in a lifetime chance to tee-off with their heroes.

It’s also a chance to see how popular the sport is with the broader community, albeit the higher-net-worth end of it.


Tim Henman (courtesy of Emirates News)

Tennis player Tim Henman says, “It’s magnificent for us to come from the UK at this time of year when most of the country’s flooded and it’s still raining and it’s windy and it’s cold and you come out here, the weather’s brilliant.”

The retired English professional  is also a keen golfer and was just one of the players in this year’s Invitational, teamed with world number 24, Thomas Bjorn.

Henman was delighted to get the chance to play in Abu Dhabi.

“The course just looks in such good shape, the greens are fantastic so it’s a real privilege to get the chance to play a course that’s set up for tournament play,” says Henman.

The tournament sponsor recognises it’s a significant tournament on the international calendar, kickstarting the golfing year and giving everyone a chance to see how the players’ form has carried over the holiday period.

“Everybody gets their rest during December and sort of brings it down, then because of the ranking points, especially in a Ryder Cup year, especially players want to get their year off to a good start because as we all know in anything if you get off to a good start its easier to sustain that throughout the year. I think that’s why it attracts the right level of golf,” says Giles Morgan, head of sponsorship at HSBC. 

But Abu Dhabi’s appeal is not only about it’s position on the golfing calendar.

“The course is absolutely world class and has been for a number of years, so they know they’re going to get a true test of golf,” says Morgan.

“The weather is always outstanding its not like playing in other parts of the world particularly on the west coast of America or in Europe where it’s obviously cold, so what’s there not to like? You’ve got wonderful hospitalty, a wonderful welcome, wonderful golf course, wonderful weather. It seems like the perfect place to play golf.”

Originally featured on Emirates News, 16 January 2014.

UAE awarded Emerging Market status

Image Credit: Noni Edwards

Image Credit: Noni Edwards

The UAE has earned its long-awaited upgrade to emerging market status on the leading international investment metric, the Morgan Stanley Capital International index (MSCI).

The compilers of the index issued a statement earlier today saying they’d decided to promote both the UAE and Qatar to Emerging Market status from Frontier Markets.

MSCI said institutional investors around the globe recognised the improvements made by the UAE regulator and its bourses in settling trades.

As expected, local investors responded to the news with trade increases.

“It’s a big jump compared to yesterday,” said Fadi El Ghattis, a senior lecturer at the Emirates Institute for Banking and Financial Studies.

“In Abu Dhabi’s exchange it was round 2.5%, in Dubai 1.6%. In Abu Dhabi it was actually the highest jump in one day in the market since September 2009,” said El Ghattis.

The UAE and Qatar first applied for an upgrade to emerging markets status in  2008 and had been denied entry to the group five times.

The managing director of the Dubai Financial Market, Essa Kazim, says while it’s welcome, it’s also well-overdue.

“We are delighted to see the UAE market upgraded to Emerging Markets status, which reflects international investors’ confidence in our markets and their satisfaction with what we have accomplished,” said Kazim.

“This development is overdue in light of the market infrastructure improvements made and ticking of all upgrade requirements a long time ago.”

“The reignited interest of local and foreign investors towards DFM since the beginning of the year underlines that what we have implemented caters to investors’ expectations”

Fadi El Ghattis expects the upgrades for the UAE and Qatar will have a  flow-on effect throughout the region.

“We have mainly 3 strong markets in the GCC, the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

“Of course Saudi Arabia is the biggest, we cannot compare any other markets even the whole Middle East to Saudi Arabia, but of course it will have a positive impact on the whole of the GCC.”

Morocco however, has been downgraded to frontier market after several years of liquidity problems and officials say Egypt is effectively on-notice, as they have a keen eye on problems with their foreign exchange market.

In another big adjustment to the index, Greece has been downgraded to Emerging Market status from Developed Market, following its economic collapse.

All changes will take officially take effect in May 2014.

Originally broadcast on Emirates News, 12 June 2013

Master storyteller tells inspiring tale

Image Credit: UAE Interact / UAE National Media Council

Image Credit: UAE Interact / UAE National Media Council

Renowned animator, Mohammed Harib, famed for the 3D cartoon series Freej, is telling a different story now, and its one he hopes will encourage more people to take their own path in life.

When the 35-year-old  developed the idea that led to the Freej animated cartoon series, Mohammed Harib wanted to give the rest of the world a taste of the Middle East and its culture.

Now it’s become so successful its been dubbed the Simpsons of the Middle East and he’s become an inspiration to others hoping to achieve success in creative industries, but his rewards didn’t come without hard work.

Harib began working on Freej when he was an undergraduate, studying arts and animation at Northeastern University in Boston.

“When I was in college, I used to sketch these characters, and my dream was to, one day, hopefully, try to see these characters move,” says Harib.

After graduating he began looking for investors and this continued another three years.

That’s when the Dubai government saw its potential and backed him to the tune of $1.3 million dollars.

Image Credit: UAE Interact / UAE National Media Council

When Freej began airing in 2006, it was a triumph for the individual but just as much for Dubai itself, telling the story of four elderly women living in modern day Dubai, and their view on the transformation of society.

Creative success has led to commercial success with merchandising including toy action figures, books and magazines.

Its animated characters are even being hired for advertising endorsements.

It’s a clear case of him finding success by choosing to follow his passion.

The only advice he can give is to be determined and courageous in pursuing one’s dreams.

“Going your own road, and doing your own thing, is a very hard road. But it’s a beautiful road whenever you reach towards the end of it,” says Harib.

“I really encourage everybody who has the strength and the mind and the capacity and the belief in himself to walk that road, to go for it, because that’s how you will be remembered in this world, because not everybody can create this kind of journey for himself.”

Now the series is being broadcast in English, Harib hopes there’s no limit to its reach, but he’s not standing still waiting for success to come to him.

He’s currently working on his first animated film, which is expected to wrap in November.

Originally on Emirates News 7 June 2013.