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.
Updated on 25 Nov 2019