Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
WEDNESDAY, 16 APR 2014
07:17 PM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
23 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Lebanon News
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Fake Xanax pills seized by authorities still missing
The Health Ministry tries to regulate drugs in the market by paying regular visits to pharmacies.
The Health Ministry tries to regulate drugs in the market by paying regular visits to pharmacies.
A+ A-

BEIRUT: The whereabouts of a batch of counterfeit Xanax seized by authorities remain unknown, according to a prominent health industry figure, with the drugs potentially posing a risk to consumers. “Last year ... the Lebanese Army caught a pickup truck outside Beirut full of fake Xanax,” former MP Ismael Sukkarieh told The Daily Star, referring to the commonly prescribed anti-anxiety drug. “They didn’t do anything about it.”

“A few months ago, it appeared that a good amount [of Xanax] also was sent [to Lebanon], but it didn’t enter,” said Sukkarieh, a doctor and a longtime advocate of tightening national controls on medicinal drugs.

Authorities reportedly seized the shipment, but its current whereabouts remain unclear, according to Sukkarieh. “We don’t know what happened to it,” he said.

Speaking to The Daily Star, head of the Pharmacists Union Rabih Hassouneh said his body recently learned about the counterfeit drugs.

“We just heard about this two days ago and now we are conducting an investigation with the responsible persons at the Customs Department and the Health Ministry to check what is the real story,” he added.

The Health Ministry said it had no knowledge of the case, but admitted that fake drugs occasionally turned up on the Lebanese market.

“Some companies import Xanax illegally from Europe,” said Mohammad Yassine, an inspector of public health and a media coordinator for the ministry. “We cannot catch everybody.”

The Health Ministry tries to regulate the issue by conducting routine visits to pharmacies and verifying that the drugs being sold are from legitimate suppliers.

According to pharmacist Rana Kandar, most fake drugs bear evidence of their dubious origin. For example, she said, sometimes the expiration date on the shipment does not correspond with the date on the individual sachets of drugs, a telltale sign of a counterfeit product.

But Sukkarieh said counterfeiters had adopted advanced techniques to thwart inspectors. He pointed to a counterfeiting drug mafia that had emerged around the world, netting some $75 billion last year alone.

The only way to ensure the authenticity of a drug, he said, was to create a central lab where medications could be tested.

“I’m re-asking for the thousandth time to activate a central lab for drug control,” he said. “We are the only country in the whole world without a central lab.”

While most patients with a prescription for Xanax should not be at risk, those buying Xanax “on the street” ran the risk of buying a counterfeit product, said one pharmacist who wished to remain anonymous.

Counterfeit drugs are usually less effective than the real product, Kandar said, with unlicensed producers cutting costs by putting only small amounts of the active ingredients in each pill.

If a patient accustomed to taking heavy doses of Xanax switched to a counterfeit product, Sukkarieh added, they could experience withdrawal symptoms and even risk falling into a coma.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 27, 2014, on page 4.
Home Lebanon News
 
     
 
Lebanon
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Story Summary
The whereabouts of a batch of counterfeit Xanax seized by authorities remain unknown, according to a prominent health industry figure, with the drugs potentially posing a risk to consumers.

The Health Ministry said it had no knowledge of the case, but admitted that fake drugs occasionally turned up on the Lebanese market.

Sukkarieh said counterfeiters had adopted advanced techniques to thwart inspectors. He pointed to a counterfeiting drug mafia that had emerged around the world, netting some $75 billion last year alone.

While most patients with a prescription for Xanax should not be at risk, those buying Xanax "on the street" ran the risk of buying a counterfeit product, said one pharmacist who wished to remain anonymous.

If a patient accustomed to taking heavy doses of Xanax switched to a counterfeit product, Sukkarieh added, they could experience withdrawal symptoms and even risk falling into a coma.
Related Articles
 
 
Fake drugs labelled as Chinese tea: France in record haul
More from
Elise Knutsen
 
 
Safe in Lebanon, but never at home
 
 
Echoes of wedding bells at Dina Jsr’s boutique
 
 
Kids carnival launches Lama Salam’s Date at the Serail
 
 
Chehab: First Army head turned president
 
 
Community center in Bekaa Valley targets youth for cohesion
Entities
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Tuesday April 15, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Silencing Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s hate talk
Michael Young
Michael Young
The presidential chess game has begun
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
China moves to the scary side of its boom
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS