The UAE has a zero-tolerance policy for recreational use of drugs. Federal Law No. 14 of 1995 criminalises production, import, export, transport, buying, selling, possessing, storing of narcotic and psychotropic substances unless done so as part of supervised and regulated medical or scientific activities in accordance with the applicable laws. The UAE police has dedicated departments to deal with drugs' issues.
Abu Dhabi Government focuses on strong familial ties, close bonding within family members and the responsibility of parents to instil values in children as a way to prevent people from turning to abusing drugs.
National Rehabilitation Center (NRC) in Abu Dhabi undertakes research on issues related to drug-abuse and offers rehabilitation and treatment to drug abusers.
The UAE is a signatory to several international conventions on narcotic and psychotropic substances (PDF). The conventions involve applying internationally valid control measures to ensure that narcotic and psychotropic substances are not freely available to layman. The conventions aim to:
- make narcotic and psychotropic substances available only for medical and scientific purposes
- prevent their diversion into illicit channels
- eliminate drug trafficking and abuse.
Federal Law No. 14 of 1995 describes how these conventions are applied in the UAE and Federal Law No. 4 of 1983 describes the basic requirements for prescribing and supplying prescription medicines.
Controlled drugs are those that, if not used responsibly, can lead to addiction and have the potential to be abused by individuals.
Narcotic and psychotropic (controlled drug - Class A or CDa) drugs are controlled.
Controlled medicines are administered to patients of acute and chronic diseases in accordance with modern medical practice. They are mostly administered to in-patients.
Controlled drug - Class B (CDb) are semi-controlled.
Majority of medicines which are used worldwide are available in community pharmacies and hospitals in the UAE.
However, narcotic, psychotropic and other controlled drugs/medicines of class A or B are neither freely available in the UAE, nor can they be freely imported into the country. They fall under the controlled/restricted items' category.
You may bring in other prescribed medicines for personal use in normal quantity. To import some medicines, you are required to receive permit from Ministry of Health and Prevention.
Prescription of controlled medicines
In the emirate of Abu Dhabi, a narcotic can be prescribed only by a physician licensed by HAAD for an in-patient and must be written on the approved narcotic prescription form.
Private sector prescriptions for out-patient narcotic supply are not usually allowed. However, exceptions will be considered following a request from a medical director.
In the emirate of Abu Dhabi, a psychotropic for an out-patient can be prescribed only by a HAAD-licensed physician. There are special requirements for the psychotropics known as CDa, previously known as 'Registered Prescription (RP)' or 'Group 4' drugs.
These must be prescribed on the official psychotropic prescription form. Currently, there are UAE federal restrictions on the duration of prescription supply of CDa and CDb drugs and this depends upon the status of the prescribing physician.
In accordance with Federal Law No. 4 of 1983, there are special requirements for an out-patient prescription written for a CDa.
There are no special prescription-requirements for ordering psychotropic CDb drugs for in or out-patients and therefore these are ordered using a normal medical prescription.
By prohibiting the use of drugs and restricting the use of controlled medicines, the UAE aims to strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse.
'Tatmeen' platform to secure healthcare supply chains
‘Tatmeen’ is a track-and-trace digital platform. It will use advanced serialisation and tracing technology to track medicines from production to end-use. It will enable tracking of pharma products through their journey in the supply chain. It is the first of its kind in the region.
‘Tatmeen’ will offer information on the origin of the products, safety to use and validity through a unique, serialised 2-D matrix bar code. Consumers will be able to verify the products at the point of purchase thereby avoiding the purchase of unapproved and counterfeit medicines. This will help control the circulation of counterfeit or expired medical supplies and other unauthorised products.
‘Tatmeen’ was launched by Ministry of Health and Prevention in September 2020. Its successful application can promote trust and transparency in the supply chain of healthcare product. ‘Tatmeen’ has a potential to fortify and secure the healthcare supply chains in the UAE.
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For fake or harmful medicines, contact Ministry of Health and Prevention through the hotline 80011111.