UAE health ministry issues alert on diabetic drug

A diabetic patient monitoring sugar level. For illustrative purpose only
Image Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Dubai: The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has urged diabetic patients not to stop taking Metformin or adjust dosage without consulting their attending physicians.

The advisory released on Friday follows reports issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicating the presence of the N-Nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA) impurity at higher levels than the permitted rates in some products of the manufacturing companies for Metformin drug, which is prescribed to treat patients with Type 2 Diabetes.

Dr Amin Hussein Al Amiri, MoHAP assistant undersecretary for Public Health Policy and Licenses, said: “MoHAP is still conducting all the required analyses for the pharmaceutical preparations that contain NDMA substance and that the ministry will instantly announce the findings of these analyses on products containing NDMA impurity which will be withdrawn from the market.”

Al Amiri noted MoHAP is communicating on a daily basis with the Metformin-related international organisations, such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency, and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia to investigate warnings related to any pharmaceuticals.

He said patients should not stop taking Metformin drug or adjust dosage without consulting their attending physicians. He also told doctors not to stop prescribing Metformin drug until they get any updated information from MoHAP.

“MoHAP is keen on enhancing patient health and safety and building quality and safety for therapeutic, healthcare, and pharmaceutical systems according to international standards,” he added.

Cancer risk

According to reports, NDMA is found at low levels in numerous food items and some drinking water, as well as polluted air. Exposure to this substance at higher levels more than acceptable daily intake and for very long periods can increase cancer risk, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

But MoHAP said it has not yet been found that there are unacceptable proportions in the Metformin products in the country.

The Ministry underlined that all the precautionary measures have been taken for patient’s health and safety, adding it constantly follows up on the proportions of the raw material of NDMA which is imported by the manufacturing companies of Metformin drug.

MoHAP added that it also follows up with the drug agents and their companies to confirm NDMA proportions in Metformin preparations which are imported to the country as an end product.

MoHAP urged patients and health practitioners to immediately report any side effects of drugs or poor-quality medicines through the UAE RADAR portal at or to e-mail:, or by calling +971 4 2301000.

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