Abu Dhabi: Over 3,000 drugs and medicines, including those used to treat life-threatening cases, are unavailable in Abu Dhabi, the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (Haad) has said.

The information was compiled during a comprehensive survey carried out by Haad in 2008 and 2009, which reviewed the availability of 7,150 different forms of medication.

Out of stock medication accounted for 56 per cent (1,685) of the shortage, while discontinued drugs accounted for 44 per cent (1,318). Additionally, among the medicines surveyed, 4,036 are currently available.

"Such shortages are not uncommon in any city or country around the world.

"The reasons range from the discontinuation of a certain medication to the decision of a manufacturer not to make a medicine available because there isn't much demand for it, to a governmental decision to withdraw a certain drug because of the risk it poses for the public or even worldwide shortages," Dr Mohammad Abu Al Khair, section head, Drug and Medical Products Regulation at Haad, said.

He added that causes could also include doctors prescribing the latest medicine or drug that may not be available in the UAE.

Therefore, there may have been cases where patients approached a pharmacy and were told that the medication was unavailable.

"We were informed on Sunday that a patient at a private hospital needed a medication called Nootropil 800mg [oral tablets taken to treat myoclonus, a condition in which the nervous system causes muscles, particularly in the arms and legs, to start to jerk or twitch uncontrollably]. However, the patient was unable to find it in Abu Dhabi pharmacies. He finally located it in a Dubai-based pharmacy," Dr Abu Al Khair said.

To deal with the issue, Haad is launching a new drug shortage reporting tool called D-Shot from May 1.

It will be made mandatory for all drug agents, hospitals, Seha (Abu Dhabi Health Authority Services), non-Seha and community pharmacies to use the tool.

"Through this portal we plan to increase drug and medication availability in the emirate by 50 per cent within one year," Dr Abu Al Khair said.

Unavailable drugs

Warfarin, 1mg anticoagulant — life-saving, essential, out-of-stock, no alternative.

Glucagons, 1 mg injection — life-saving, emergency, essential, out-of-stock, no alternative.

Clozapine 25mg — registered, controlled medicine, essential, out-of -stock, no alternative.

Phenobarbital — 15ng/5ml oral, out-of-stock, no alternative, non-registered, controlled, essential.

Clindamycin ovule, antibiotic, out-of-stock, no alternative, essential.