New rules to buy antibiotics in Bahrain
Manama, April 1, 2013
Patients in Bahrain could soon require a doctor's prescription to buy antibiotics, according to a senior health official.
The rule has been in place since the early 1990s but is not being implemented, National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) chief executive officer Dr Baha Eldin Fathea added.
A review has now been launched by NHRA after international drug manufacturer Pfizer issued a warning over one of its antibiotic products, which was responsible for fatalities among users with existing heart conditions, said a report in our sister publication, the Gulf Daily News.
The NHRA is concerned that consumers are putting their health at risk by self-prescribing medication that could actually be harmful and is now planning a complete ban on the sale of antibiotics without doctors' prescriptions.
"Most antibiotics and other medications can be procured over the counter at pharmacies in Bahrain," Dr Fathea said. "This is not only inappropriate, but could endanger people's health."
The measure follows an "urgent notification" by Pfizer that its drug Zithromax, which is used to treat infectious diseases, could lead to an irregular heartbeat in some patients.
"Physicians should therefore use extreme caution when prescribing this medication and avoid its use if the patient has any myocardial disease, particularly those related to myocardial conductivity," said Dr Fathea.
"The problem is that people tend to go and buy antibiotics themselves when they have some medical problem. This is also a caution to them not to buy this or any other antibiotic on their own. An antibiotic should only be taken after a doctor's examination and after being prescribed."
Meanwhile, the NHRA is also urging doctors in Bahrain to abide by the recommended sick leave period for all communicable diseases to minimise the risk of infection.
It said the measure was taken after it emerged doctors were not following guidelines on sick leave for illnesses such as chickenpox, measles, mumps, rubella, viral hepatitis, tuberculosis, dysentery, cholera, conjunctivitis, influenza, bacterial meningococcal infections, poliomyelitis and typhoid.
All hospitals in Bahrain have also been urged to report to the National Cancer Registry of all suspected and confirmed cases of cancer.
"Some private hospitals and clinics have not been regularly reporting such cases and that means we are unable to maintain proper records for this disease," said Dr Fathea. "We have made it clear to them all such cases need to be reported in keeping with international guidelines." – TradeArabia News Service