(MENAFN - Arab News) Many patients in Saudi Arabia are buying drugs from neighboring countries because of the lack of supplies in the Kingdom, according to experts here.
A source at the Saudi Food and Drug Authority said that some Saudi companies have stopped importing, while local manufacturers have stopped producing certain drugs because of trademark issues.
Pharmacists said that some kind of drugs do not have alternatives.
For example, patients suffering from gallstone ulcers cannot find the drug Roakol or any other alternatives.
"Those who are dependent on Roakol are in severe pain, resulting in them having to undergo surgery to remove their gallbladders," said pharmacist Ala Abu Al-Naja.
Others choose to buy it from Egypt, which only allows the sale of small quantities.
The Egyptian capsules come in quantities that last for 10 days, while those in Saudi last for one month.
Pharmacist Saleem Abbas said that importing companies have a moral and professional obligation to provide people with their medicine.
"Doctors are now being left to have confrontations with their patients," Abbas said.
Faisal Tamr, head of the medicine and medical supplies committee at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that local importers cannot produce certain medicines due to patent and trademarks laws.
However, he said local companies could reach agreements with international drug companies to produce some drugs in the Kingdom.
Tamr said more Saudi companies are producing drugs in compliance with international standards making these products competitive on local and regional markets.
He said that some drugs are manufactured domestically with Saudi patents.
"Between 30 and 50 percent of local medical products are exported to international markets including the Arabian Gulf, Africa, Asia, Europe and even America," said Tamr.