UAE | Health

Acne pill banned in France available in UAE

Doctors say negative effects of Diane-35 could stem from other risk factors in patients

  • By Samihah Zaman, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 18:41 January 31, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Reuters
  • Acne drug Diane-35

Abu Dhabi: A drug that has been linked to the death of four women in France is widely available and prescribed in the UAE at present.

The medicine, an acne pill named Diane-35, has also been linked to blood clots in more than 100 other women.

Most pharmacy representatives across the UAE said that the medicine, manufactured by German chemical and pharmaceutical firm Bayer, was available at their stores.

Some also said that there was no need for a prescription to purchase the pills.

Women also told Gulf News that they had been prescribed Diane-35 by doctors.

The UAE Ministry of Health did not comment on the matter by the time of going to press. An official said a decision on banning the drug may be taken next week.

“I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian disease nearly 10 years ago, and have been taking oral contraceptives for its treatment, as well as for the purpose of birth control. Recently, I visited a different gynaecologist, and she immediately recommended Diane-35, which I have been taking for two months,” said one concerned 24-year-old patient.

Sales of Diane-35, which is reportedly sold in more than 100 countries, have nevertheless been suspended in France by the National Agency for the Safety of Drugs and Health Products (ANSM).

When contacted, doctors in the UAE said they too prescribe the medicine frequently.

“Nearly all gynaecologists will have some experience in prescribing Diane-35, especially as it is used to treat certain symptoms of polycystic ovarian disease, which is common in women in the UAE. For example, the medicine helps treat acne and excessive hair growth related to the disease,” said Dr Aruna Kumari, obstetrics and gynaecology consultant at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi.

The doctor explained that Diane 35 has a slightly higher amount of oestrogen compared to most oral contraceptives.

“Most other oral contraceptives have 30 micrograms of the hormone oestrogen per pill, whereas Diane-35 has 35 micrograms. But this shouldn’t create any real risks, so I am surprised to hear of the deaths in France. Perhaps the medicine was given to women who had other risk factors,” Dr Kumari said. “Gynaecologists run preliminary checks on patients before prescribing these pills to ensure that other risk factors are not present, and they usually only prescribe the medicines for three months at a time. So patients need not be concerned if they are being monitored regularly.”

Comments (3)

  1. Added 16:31 February 1, 2013

    I've been taking Diane-35 for 16 years now and there is no other medication that can treat Polycystic Ovaries. Without this medication I suffer a lot. From time to time I stop and that is the time I see I really need it. For me was like a miracle. I'm so happy with this medication. In my country this medication is legally sold and there was never a problem. Contradicting these cases in France, I have never met a doctor saying negative points about Diane-35. I hope they can really find out what's really the problem because it's quite strange a medicine that has been sold in most of the countries for so many years and exactly in just one region started appearing 'problems'. It will be a nightmare if I can't buy it anymore.

    Paula, Dubai, Brazil

  2. Added 12:39 February 1, 2013

    Medicines banned in one country may not be banned in other countries and conversely medicines available in one country may be banned in another country. Mostly medicines are being banned which have very limited years of market existence and adverse reactions are watched in a large proportion of people which was not disclosed by the manufacturer during approval process. One medicine discovered in a laboratory undergoes clinical trial for a limited no. of people and sometimes some adverse reactions of the medicine are reported by some users when it is used by a large no. of people of different sex, age, race, skin color, geographical and climatic different inhabitants, different food habits and life style. All medications on the markets nowadays, some are not suitable for certain individuals for various reasons. Instead of banning such medication a better education on pharmaceutical products should be instituted at consumer level so that people should consult with a physician before they consume the medicine, direct buying from Pharmacist, should be avoided. MOH is requested to institute a mechanism that NO medicine can be sold without a prescription and that should be the answer of such problems. Whereas any banned medicine (which is banned by the country Federal Drug Authority) must not be dispensed to the customers.

    Dr Mohammad C Jamali,, Al Ain UAE, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 11:27 February 1, 2013

    This seems to be blown out of proportion slightly. I have taken this pill to treat Polysytic Ovaries for about 8 years and without it I suffer terribly. As with all medications on the markets nowadays, some are not suitable for certain individuals for various reasons. Banning such a medication is not the answer, better education on pharmaceutical products is the way to go.

    Molly, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

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