UAE MARKET'S WEALTH SPAWNS FAKE DRUG TRADE
The UAE's US$700mn drug market appears to have given rise to a thriving fake drug trade, as illegal manufacturers are increasingly tempted by high prices for legitimate products. Local pharmacists routinely sell prescription drugs over the counter, luring counterfeiters to increase their penetration of the retail market.
Local officials claim that many fake products are simply smuggled in through postal services, or are falsely packaged as herbal products, which are currently unregulated. Officials concede that consumers' embarrassment over asking doctors for erectile dysfunction drugs may play an unwitting part in the trade.
Internationally isolated Syria appears to be the regional supply centre for the UAE's fake drug trade. However, government sources hope that a new pharmacy code of practice due in early 2006 -- which will clarify the distinction between prescription and OTC drugs -- will help improve the situation.