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UAE doctors look to new medication in the fight against drug use

A drug that can save the life of an overdosing addict and a treatment to help users quit are among the tools that could save lives and help in the battle against addiction, experts said.

On the closing day of the International Society of Addiction Medicine conference in Abu Dhabi, drug experts singled out several key treatments that they hope will soon be available.

A National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) official said it is hoped the government will make naloxone - which can save the life of an overdosing addict - more widely available. At present, it is largely hospitals, doctors and paramedics have access to the injection. They also await a new new nasal spray designed for easier use.

Dr Ahmad El Kashef, head of research at the NRC, said he does not know how long it will take before this happens, adding that it “depends on approvals, maybe a year.”

“We already wrote a recommendation and it was approved a year ago in the US and immediately after, we requested that it gets approved here as well.

“In the UAE it is mostly used in emergency rooms, ambulances and at the NRC, and there must be a doctor’s prescription because it is only available by injection. We still don’t have the nasal spray.”

Naloxone, which cannot be abused, could be kept at home by the families of recovering users.

The intention would be that if users did get their hands on a drug and overdose, a family member could save their life.