Patients in the UAE urged to check safety profile of over-the-counter medicine to prevent overdose

Experts from HAAD to give latest updates on safety of OTC products at Abu Dhabi Medical Congress
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Abu Dhabi Medical Congress 2010 small
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Oct. 3, 2011 - PRLog -- Abu Dhabi, UAE: Many patients in the UAE often assume that because there is no requirement for direct physician supervision for over-the-counter medication (OTC), the medication is safe. According to experts from Health Authority – Abu Dhabi (HAAD), as a general rule, OTC medications are only safe when used as directed.  Patient education and adequate counseling from pharmacists is the only way to prevent harm and misuse of self-medication products.

“OTC medicines are increasingly used for self-medication, but such products can be easily misused or abused,” says Dr Yasser Sharif, Section Head-Medication Safety & Medical Product Safety, Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD). “The terms ‘misuse’ and ‘abuse’ are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings in this context. Misuse is defined as using an OTC product for a legitimate medical reason but in higher doses or for a longer period than recommended, e.g. taking more of a painkiller than recommended to treat a headache. On the other hand the term abuse is defined as the non-medical use of OTC drugs, e.g. to experience a ‘high’ or lose weight.”

Dr Sharif is the Chair of the Current Trends in Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology Conference that will run as part of the Abu Dhabi Medical Congress (ADMC), from 23 -25 October, 2011, at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC). Crafted by Informa Exhibitions, this conference will highlight new regulations put forward on antibiotic use and herbal medications, as well as narcotics and controlled drugs. The conference will also cover the regulation, use and benefit of generic medication due to demands put forth by the UAE government to optimise the use of their medication funding.

According to Dr Sharif, the prevalence of OTC misuse in UAE cannot be estimated due to lack of complete information, however, during 2010-2011 the Health Authority –Abu Dhabi Poison and Drug Information Center (PDIC) received 21 cases of OTC product misuse(overdose), representing 10% of all poison cases that was reported during this period.

“The most commonly abused product is acetaminophen (13 cases) - alone or with other ingredients such as caffeine, diphenhydramine , chlorpheniramine and pseudoephedrine – while other pain killers reported three (3) cases, and  cough & cold products five (5) cases. All cases needed hospitalisation and could have ended up with severe liver damage or other body organ complications if not treated in a timely manner,” says Dr Sharif.

A survey conducted earlier this year by Dubai College of Pharmacy students to identify cases of poisoning with OTC products confirmed the PDIC data; Acetaminophen was the most common reason for OTC poisoning (53/105), more than 50% of the cases, while other pain killers represent only 13% (14/105).

Dr Sharif is also involved in the PDIC’s plan to launch a poison prevention campaign in December 2011 that aims to strengthen commitment to the safety of residents and to guard against accidental poisonings.

As well as the comprehensive, CME accredited conference programme across four sectors  - Primary Healthcare, Emergency, Rehabilitation and Patient Safety – ADMC will occupy 7,000sqm of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre and will attract over 150 companies to exhibit over the three-day event.   PHARMA is a completely new section of the exhibition and is aimed directly at key pharmaceutical suppliers and distributors.

Simon Page, Managing Director, Life Sciences, Informa Exhibitions, said: “Adding the PHARMA section to ADMC was an easy decision for us. According to recent growth trends, the pharmaceutical sector of the GCC will touch US$7.6 billion by 2014 and will grow to US$9.6 billion by 2019. The UAE will comprise 35% of total GCC drug market spending, with the UAE government actively encouraging foreign direct investment.”

For information about ADMC, please call +971 3365161 or visit


Note to Editors

About Informa Exhibitions:
For more information about Informa Exhibitions, please visit

About the HAAD:
For more information about HAAD, please visit

About Acetaminophen:
Acetaminophen is the generic name for the medication found in Tylenol, Panadol and Adol. It is also available in combination with some products for cold and flu that usually contain caffeine, diphenhydramine, chlorpheniramine and pseudoephedrine, and in a large number of forms and concentrations. Source: Dr Yasser Sharif, Section Head-Medication Safety & Medical Product Safety, Health Authority-Abu Dhabi (HAAD).

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Tags:Abu Dhabi, Medical Conference, Pharma, Medicine, Overdose, Congress, Cme
Industry:Event, Health, Medical
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