Saudi Arabia is the largest pharmaceutical market in the Gulf, valued at SR 19.1 billion, according to a report issued by Alpen Capital on the GCC pharmaceutical market. Saudi Arabia has one of the largest manufacturing industries, with around 15 to 20 manufacturing facilities.
In a survey conducted by Arab News, 52 percent of the 250 male and female respondents aged between 20 and 60 said they would rather purchase a Western-made brand rather than rely on Arab or locally manufactured pharmaceuticals. Among the other participants, 24 percent indicated that they would try an Arab-made medicine, but only if it was cheaper than its Western counterpart. The respondents, which expressed a preference for Western-made pharmaceutical brands listed trust as the main reason governing their choice. She added that countries such as Syria, Egypt and Jordan do not monitor the quality of the medicine and substitute cheaper ingredients as alternatives.
Agreeing with her, Nowaf Ibrahim, a pilot and father of one, expressed the opinion that pharmaceutical products produced in the Middle East are not as effective as their counterparts in the US or European countries. He added that many of the drugs produced by Arab states have been discovered to have harmful side effects, which may only be discovered years after their presence in local markets. Desktop users: right click on the image and choose "save image as" or "set as desktop background". I was struck this week by a comment on my website, which bemoaned the highly disorganized state of “alternative medicine” in this Country and in particular the “paltry sums” for alternative research funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
If an MD or DO is treating a cancer patient and that patient asks to see or understand the basic science and clinical studies which support the recommended therapy, that published data is readily available. A key question is that just because the research supporting CAM therapies is limited, does that make them bad?  Not necessarily, but it does mean that when choosing such a method of care, patients need to understand they are making the decision based not on a step-by-step scientific process, but on unproven theory.  It comes down to trust in the CAM practitioner, because no one, not the person providing the treatment, the patient’s primary physician, nor the patient, has any objective evidence to show that the therapy may help or hurt. Patients have many reasons to choose alternative treatment instead of or in addition to conventional medical care.


After reading “Bad Pharma” by Ben Goldacre, I question whether the little evidence available on CAM is any worse than the biased evidence published (or not published in the case of negative tests)! Despite these figures, Saudi customers have cited concerns regarding the quality and effectiveness of locally manufactured medicine.
However, the majority of what is produced locally is exported, while 15 percent is supplied to the 4,000 pharmacies across the country. On the other hand, 21 percent expressed the view that they trust Arab–made medicine regardless of the price. For this reason, I usually bring medicine from America rather than rely on local products,”he said.
The writer suggested that not only could the quality of health be improved with alternative medicine studies, but would go a long way towards saving health care dollars. Standard oncology treatment goes through 10-20 years of research, from the test tube, animal studies and through a series of supervised human multi-phase trials, until it is approved and offered to patients.
Some, like Chinese Traditional Medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine of India, American Homeopathy or Acupuncture, are hundreds or even thousands of years old and have millions of adherents who believe it has helped or even cured them. On the other hand, randomized trials have shown that laetrile (amygdalin) has no anticancer activity and that Vitamin C does not prevent or blunt upper respiratory infections any better than sugar pills. The most obvious is the powerful desire to do everything possible to fight the disease, to leave no stone unturned.
Some by obvious side effects, such as the woman whose breast fell off after receiving a poultice or the man who had such severe nerve damage that he never walked again.  Others delayed life saving therapy with horrible result. Nevertheless, until ideas are subjected to the light of scientific scrutiny, each patient and family must understand that by alternative we do not mean a therapy which is proven, but out of the mainstream; by alternative we simply mean unknown.
Twenty tears in the research and writing, the reviews on the main page tell you just how good this book is.


Alternative therapy ought to be held to the same ethical standard as conventional: first do no harm, including keeping a person from receiving beneficial conventional treatment. Most sincerely believe they are helping people, and some responsibly guide patients back to conventional medicine. Each step is refereed by competing and critical PhD and physician scientists and must be published in peer-edited journals for general review and criticism, all of which is public and transparent. I would add that one of the wickedest impacts of a few predatory practitioners of alternative therapy is to bankrupt the patient and their family by taking advantage of their desperation.
My version of Steve, a college age woman with stage 2 Hodgkin’s that she tried to treat with everything but conventional therapy was sent to me by the naturopath she consulted (after 2 years of trying everything on her own) when she was short of breath, febrile and wasting with now stage 4 HD. In addition, I would agree fully that many CAM providers are highly compassionate and communicate well, something conventional physicians often lack. Where it is not, and when people attempt to manipulate or falsify the system or data, massive blowback eventually occurs. Scientists believe that individual case reports are poor substitutes for the objective analysis of hundreds of patients in experimental trials.  All CAM therapies have limited or no published research to explain the science of these therapies or to prove they work any better than placebo. For some there is deep mistrust in the objectivity of the “physician-medical school-pharmaceutical-government complex.”  Traditional religious, superstitious and pseudoscientific reasoning support the CAM decisions of many patients. You’ll never look at medicine and particularly alternative medicine in the same way again!



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