Narcotics abuse alert sounded in Bahrain
Manama, October 13, 2011
Doctors have been accused of issuing excessive levels of narcotics without properly assessing patients, leading to an "unbelievable increase" in the consumption of narcotic drugs in Bahrain, said a senior official.
Hundreds of people, particularly those with sickle cell disease (SCD), have reportedly been given prescriptions by private medical practitioners to obtain drugs such as morphine and tramal, said National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) chief executive officer Dr Baha Eldin Fateha.
"In most cases, we have learnt prescriptions for these drugs are being given out in exchange for a regular consultation fee," he said.
"This is only fuelling addiction since if anyone coming to the doctor asking for these medications has to be treated as well and not sent away after being given the prescription. By doing this, the doctors are indulging in unsafe practice and this should be stopped."
Dr Fateha said that there had been cases when as many as 90 tablets had been handed out in a single prescription.
He has now issued a circular to all private clinics and polyclinics concerning the excessive use of narcotics.
The circular, sent out on Sunday, says that the NHRA has noticed an alarming increase in the prescription and consumption of narcotic drugs, particularly to SCD patients visiting private clinics and polyclinics.
"It is well known that repeated prescription and use of these medications can lead to serious consequences on its users, notably addiction to narcotics," said Dr Fateha.
"Accordingly, NHRA urges all private clinics and polyclinics to exercise caution in prescribing narcotics and adhere to article 15 of Law by Decree number 7, 1989 that regulates the practice of medicine and dentistry."
The circular says that all private clinics must maintain a log containing patient information, diagnosis and treatment, as well as any other data the ministry may require.
"It is now required from all physicians in private clinics to establish a log that contains detailed information on patients receiving prescriptions for narcotics," said Dr Fateha.
"The log should contain at least the name of the patient, CPR number and date of visit, diagnosis, prescription details, dosage and duration of narcotic medication."
Dr Fateha said that NHRA inspectors would verify the contents of the logs and compare them with those in pharmacy control to ensure the physicians were not abusing their privilege in prescribing narcotics.
"We are aiming to prevent or at least minimise the addiction to narcotics particularly by the unfortunate SCD patients, which develop as a result of ease in obtaining and dispensing narcotics," he said.
"For those patients who visit private clinics and polyclinics for the sole purpose of obtaining narcotics prescription, NHRA urges physicians in these clinics to refer these patients to the nearby primary care centres or any public or private hospitals to assess their need to addiction management."
Dr Fateha said that while NHRA does not wish or intend to interfere in the privileges and judgment of physicians in prescribing medication, "we urge all private clinics to adhere to this circular to provide high quality and safe care to patients and avoid administrative and/or legal action against violators." – TradeArabia News Service