The Ministry of Health has directed the 20 directorates under its wing to carry out ad hoc inspection tours of private psychiatric clinics in the Kingdom after it came to light that psychiatrists were taking financial advantage of patients by prescribing them addictive drugs.
Sources said the ministry had concrete information on psychiatrists prescribing certain addictive drugs to ensure that patients return to their clinics time and again.
The inspection teams will carry out their tasks under the supervision of the Pharmaceutical Inspection Committee in the Health Ministry, press reports said.
Jeddah Health spokesman Abdel Rahman Al-Seifi said that the well-being and safety of patients was paramount and which can be ensured only through proper medical treatment. Action would be initiated against doctors who go against local rules and regulations, he added.
The Health Ministry has received complaints from a number of patients in Jeddah, Makkah and Riyadh over medicine prescribed to them by psychiatrist clinics. The complainants claimed that they didn’t need the medicines in the first place, but that continued usage had resulted in their addiction.
The sources said some pharmacies were also involved in promoting certain types of psychiatric drugs to patients across the counter and without prescription.
The sources said there are not enough psychiatrists in the Kingdom to meet demand in public hospitals. Private hospitals too are facing similar problems, forcing some patients to seek medical help from doctors who are not qualified in the field. This has resulted in incorrect drugs being prescribed, besides over-prescribing, the sources said.
The medical inspection team at Jeddah Health found two pharmacies in north Jeddah selling psychiatric pills without medical prescription last week.
Al-Seifi said that 39 clinics, 36 pharmacies, four medical centers and five medical departments in private hospitals under the jurisdiction of Jeddah Health were closed down since the start of 2013, besides one hospital in Jeddah.