Sunday, 25 October 2009
Before you pack your bag
This article tells the story of two Canadian travellers thrown into the Dubai jail for a month because one of them had tablets of the medication 'Celebrex' in his luggage. Celebrex is prescribed to treat joint/muscle inflamations and is often used to treat arthritis symptoms. Celebrex is NOT on the UAE government's list of restricted/controlled drugs.
Anyone can Google "Celebrex". The very first website listed, "worldofmolecules.com", gives the following summary of the pharmacology plus a coloured picture of the Celebrex molecular structure: "Celecoxib is a highly selective COX-2 inhibitor and primarily inhibits this isoform of cyclooxygenase (inhibition of prostaglandin production), whereas traditional NSAIDs inhibit both COX-1 and COX-2. Celecoxib is approximately 7.6 times more selective for COX-2 inhibition over COX-1. In theory, this specificity allows celecoxib and other COX-2 inhibitors to reduce inflammation (and pain) while minimizing gastrointestinal adverse drug reactions (e.g. stomach ulcers) that are common with non-selective NSAIDs." What does this mean? NFI.
The site also gives a history of the drug, discusses the role of Celebrex in cancer prevention and the risks of heart attack from taking the drug etc.
The UAE government's list of restricted/controlled drugs can be found here.
Source: 7 Days 25 October 09
The Canadian government has warned its tourists to be extra careful when travelling to the UAE after two men spent a month in a Dubai prison for possession of arthritis medicine.
The Canadian Foreign Affairs case worker for the Middle East, Nathalie Tenorio-Roy, described the case as an “ordeal” and said that her ministry had updated its UAE travel advice to warn tourists of the risk.
Rocky Sharma and Stephen Macleod said they went through a “nightmare” after the arthritis drug Celebrex was found in Macleod’s bag.
The drug is not banned in the UAE but it took a month to verify its status and whether it contained any illegal ingredients before the men were eventually released.
In an email to the duo, Tenorio-Roy said her government had now sent out a new warning to tourists because of the men’s “unfortunate ordeal”.
The ministry now warns tourists that they could face “long delays” before they will have the chance to talk to a member of embassy staff if they are arrested.
Macleod, a dialysis nurse, was taking the medicine for back pain and had a prescription from his doctor.
The pair spent a month in jail, during which Canadian officials rushed to get specialist medicine sent from Paris for Sharma, who suffers from a serious ongoing medical condition.
“I could have died without my medicine. I can’t thank the Canadian consulate enough for their help,” Sharma told 7DAYS.
The pair were returning from a holiday in Sharma’s native India and stopped off in the UAE on August 2 to see the “glittering lights of Dubai”.
However, airport police arrested both of them after finding Celebrex in Macleod’s bag.
“I was suddenly in a room with ten other men, I didn’t know what was going on,” Macleod said. He was taken to an isolation room before being moved to the medical wing of Dubai Central Jail because of his illness.
Executive director of Dubai Customs Cargo Operations, Mohammed Al Marri, told 7DAYS that Dubai Customs advertises very clearly in airports and in airline publications that certain medicines are not allowed in the country.
If a person shows their medicine to customs officials, it will be inspected along with a Ministry of Health official to determine if the substance is allowed into the country.
If the medicine is not declared and is found in luggage, the person will then be told if the substance is to be confiscated.
Al Marri said officials always try to act reasonably.
An official at the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that the men were held for the Celebrex drug and that the Dubai consulate had fought to have the men released.