Abu Dhabi: The pharmacy department at the Health Authority Abu Dhabi (HAAD) has sent a circular to 520 pharmacies across the emirate of Abu Dhabi warning them about 36 drug prescription forms that have gone missing and could be misused.

The prescription forms went missing from an Abu Dhabi-based hospital a few days ago.

Speaking about the issue with Gulf News, Osama Abu Shaban, the section head responsible for Quality Auditing (Pharmacies) at HAAD, explained that a narcotic officer from HAAD and a health inspector from the HAAD pharmacy auditing department are currently investigating the case.

"It usually takes a week to find out how these prescription forms went missing. Till then we cannot blame or assume the doctor, the nurse, nor anyone working close-by are responsible. For all we know, the forms could have been misplaced. However in the meantime, we must make sure that none of the pharmacies dispense these prescription drugs, that's why an instant circular was sent," said Abu Shaban.

Random checks

The HAAD has warned pharmacies about the missing prescription forms as they might be used by people to ‘illegaly' get ‘controlled drugs'. Prescription forms going missing is rather uncommon but this is the second such incident in recent memory. "It also happened last January, however, it never gets serious, nor has ever required the police's involvement," the official said.

The HAAD pharmaceutical quality auditing department consists of eight auditors, two in Al Ain and six in Abu Dhabi, who each pay random surprise visits to pharmacies on average three times a year.

In addition, pre-planned controlled medication visits known as ‘renewal licensing audits' take place across pharmacies once a year.

Asked about the biggest challenge facing pharmaceutical auditors at HAAD, Abu Shaban said: "Our biggest challenge is to advance the system and make sure pharmacists dispense the right medication, are knowledgeable on patient care and provide enough information about medication and rational drug use."

He added: "If we hear or see an unregistered pharmacist in any of the pharmacies across the emirate, we instantly shut it down, bring in the people responsible, and send the case to the licensing committee at the HAAD."