Pharmacy chain says ‘no’ to hiring women

Updated 16 February 2013

Pharmacy chain says ‘no’ to hiring women

A Minister of Labor official said on Wednesday the ministry made no plans to allow women to seek employment in Saudi pharmacies.
Even if the Labor Ministry eventually issues an edict to give female pharmacists jobs in commercial establishments, Al-Nahdi group said, it will conduct no such hiring.
“In general, not many Saudis are keen to work for commercial pharmacies,” Housm Al-Qurashi, marketing vice-president of Al-Nahdi group, said. “The salary that companies are offering to pharmacists is low compared to the salaries that Saudi pharmacists receive in pharmacies at government hospitals.”
A Labor Ministry source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told Arab News the ministry issued no decree despite numerous media accounts to the contrary.
“I read such news in the media, but the issue had never been discussed at the ministry,” he said.
There are female pharmacists in the Kingdom working mostly in government pharmacies. There are an estimated 7,000 pharmacies across the Kingdom.
Demand for pharmacists is high. Saudi pharmacists prefer to work for big governmental hospitals, aiming to get a high salary and a better position, Al-Qurashi said.
“In our company we don’t have Saudi men or women working as pharmacists,” he said. “We do have Saudis pharmacists who work as CSR managers, accounting managers, and many other leading positions.” He added: “Before we can hire Saudi female pharmacists, we would have to add private toilets and partitions to the building, and provide security staff. It is really difficult to allow women to work in commercial pharmacies. Many are located in underdeveloped areas where it is impossible for women to work.”
Some female Saudi pharmacists say that working in commercial pharmacies is not desirable.
“I graduated from King Abdulaziz University two years ago. It was impossible for me to find a job in a governmental hospital,” said Hala Al-Youssef. “I found several job opportunities in private hospitals for a salary of SR 3,000. At that time I refused to work for these hospitals as their salaries were too low.”
She said governmental hospitals hire Saudis in the second position immediately with salaries between SR 7,000 to SR 10,000. A Saudi pharmacist also often gets promoted to a senior position within one year.
Nadin Nasser, a Saudi pharmacist, who works for a governmental hospital, said that opening up opportunities for Saudi women to work in commercial pharmacies would be a positive step.
“In government hospitals, pharmacists suffer from working in a crowded area,” Nasser said. “They have to prepare and sometimes make the medications. Such tasks are difficult, especially for pharmacists who don’t want to work hard. Working in commercial pharmacies is easier for pharmacists. The working hours are long, but the job is all about selling medications to the patient.”


Saudi health authorities ready to join trials of COVID-19 vaccines

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health is working with a different Chinese company to evaluate whether the vaccine it is developing is effective. (REUTERS)
Updated 22 September 2020

Saudi health authorities ready to join trials of COVID-19 vaccines

  • Ministry of Health and King Abdullah International Medical Research Center have been working with two Chinese drug companies

JEDDAH: King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC) in Saudi Arabia is preparing to take part in advanced trials of one or two COVID-19 vaccines.

About 40 potential vaccines are being tested on humans, nine of which are at the advanced stage of clinical trials to evaluate their safety and effectiveness in protecting people against a virus that has infected more than 31 million people around the world.

The center confirmed its readiness to cooperate with the Kingdom’s Ministry of Health and the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) and participate in tests of one or two of the nine vaccines that are in the third phase of clinical trials, during which large-scale testing on humans takes place.

Dr. Naif Al-Harbi, the head of KAIMRC’s drug-development unit, told Al-Ekhbariya TV news channel that it is unprecedented to have nine vaccines in stage three of clinical trials so soon, less than a year, after the emergence of a new virus.

“Approval or disapproval of any drug normally follows the third stage of its clinical trials, which is the last stage,” he added. “Since the pandemic, KAIMRC has been in continuous contact with a number of drug companies in four countries (that are developing vaccines).”

KAIMRC has been working with one Chinese pharmaceutical company in particular to help evaluate and accelerate the development of its vaccine, he said.

“Over the past two months, we have been in contact with Sinovac to scientifically evaluate its product, in term of the tests on animals and a study of the results of stages one and two on humans,” Al-Harbi said.

He added that the Kingdom’s Ministry of Health is working with a different Chinese company to evaluate whether the vaccine it is developing is effective. A number of factors are taken into consideration when reaching a conclusion.

“We examine the drugs and make sure they have caused no side effects when tested on humans, or that they just caused insignificant side effects,” said Al-Harbi. “We also look into the manufacturing company’s profile to ensure it follows the standards of the good manufacturing practices, and that the company’s products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards.”

He added that SFDA is also doing a great job in ensuring that vaccines are safe, to avoid any risks to the health of people in the Kingdom.

In a message posted on Twitter, KAIMRC said that some countries, such as Russia, China and the UAE, have given doctors the green light to use some vaccines on patients before that have been approved, but only in emergency cases and when the results of early clinical studies indicate that the vaccine is safe.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia announced 27 additional COVID-19-related deaths. The death toll in the country now stands at 4,512.

Meanwhile, 492 new cases have been confirmed in the Kingdom, bringing the total number of people infected by the virus to 330,246. Of those, 14,235 cases remain active and 1,133 patients are in a critical condition.

The Ministry of Health said Makkah recorded the highest number of new cases, with 58, followed by Jeddah with 53, and Madinah with 38.

A further 1,060 people in the Kingdom have recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries to 311,499. A total of 6,093,601 tests for the virus have been carries out in the country, including 43,652 in the past 24 hours.