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.

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.

Dubai Health Authority strategy launched

The long-term strategic plan for the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) was launched today in a briefing for the ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The DHA strategy will operate from now through to 2025, through 43 separate initiatives that are designed to fulfil four goals:

  1. Prevention and awareness
  2. Easy of access
  3. Quality
  4. Competitiveness

It builds on Sheikh Mohammed’s vision of long-term sustainable development of Dubai as a health tourism destination, among patients from throughout the Gulf and internationally.

The DHA also launched a three-phase plan to find urgent solutions for immediate customer service issues, followed by administrative and technical affairs in the medium term and strategic issues in the long term.

On his visit to DHA headquarters, Sheikh Mohammed was accompanied by the Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Deputy Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

During the presentation, Sheikh Mohammed viewed designs for proposed health projects within the strategy, including:

  • rebuilding of Rashid Hospital at a total cost of AED 3 billion and with a capacity of 900 beds;
  • expanding the current trauma centre to 160 beds;
  • expanding the out-patient clinics to 160 treatment rooms;
  • establishing new centres for heart, cancer, kidney and cosmetic surgeries;
  • building six new specialised centres.

The strategy also envisages two five-star hotels to serve those accompanying patients.

Other future projects viewed by Sheikh Mohammed are the expansion of the Care Home for the Elderly and three other hospitals which include Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Hospital, the Al Maktoum Hospital and the Al Khawaneej Hospital.

Sheikh Mohammed also launched a DHA website for measuring customer satisfaction.

Originally broadcast on Emirates News, 19 May 2013.