RIYADH — Dr. Hajid Bin Hajid, executive director of the licensing department at the Saudi Food and Drugs Authority, denied reports that internationally banned psychiatric drugs are being administered at some hospitals and clinics. He also stated that firm action would be taken against any medical establishment using banned drugs.
Dr. Abdul Rahman Al-Sultan, a director at the Authority, told a local newspaper that all banned medications are destroyed upon discovery and pharmacies are issued controlled drugs according to need.
Al-Sultan said that the Authority makes a periodic inventory of these products in the traders’ warehouses, adding that monitoring pharmacies and private health facilities is done through the health affairs division in the Ministry of Health. Pharmacies licensed to sell psychiatric drugs are strictly supervised.
Prof. Tarek Al-Habib, a specialist physician, stated that psychiatric drugs and pills could represent a risk if the standards that are applied to general medical drugs are not applied to them, namely medical supervision and an actual need for the medication.
Al-Habib stressed the need for electronically linking pharmacies that sell psychiatric medicines as this will add more control to the sale of such drugs.
As for control on the sale of psychiatric drugs, Al-Habib said that the existing control and regulations have contributed to minimizing the risks.
Commenting on prescribing drugs to patients from the first treatment session, Al-Habib said the physician has the right to determine and assess the patient’s need. He pointed out that some symptoms require prompt and early intervention.
Al-Habib said the regulatory bodies, such as the Food and Drugs Authority and ministries of Commerce and Health, have their own regulations and procedures. These procedures were put in place to ensure the patients’ safety. — SG