Saudi Arabia Makes Unlikely Pairing With Drug Company Pfizer | The Fix
facebook twitter RSS
HOT TOPICS: Alcoholism  Addiction  AA  Cocaine  Heroin

Saudi Arabia Makes Unlikely Pairing With Drug Company Pfizer

Despite their strict laws against drugs, the Saudis have said they need drugs to combat growing instances of chronic diseases.


Soon to be a mecca for prescription drugs.
Photo via Shutterstock

By McCarton Ackerman


| Share

Saudi Arabia has some of the strictest drug possession laws in the world, but it’s about to become a major player in pharmaceutical drug manufacturing. Drug company Pfizer is planning to set up factories throughout Saudi Arabia and is expecting to have an output capacity of 18 million packs per year when it starts production in 2015. Minister of Labor Engineer Adel Fakieh Al-Hakim confirmed that the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) established “Saudi Pfizer Company Limited” factory for the production of the company’s medicine at King Abdullah Economic City.

Al-Hakim justified the decision by acknowledging the growing increase of Saudis with chronic diseases like diabetes, heart illness, and obesity. However, visitors to the strict Muslim country are forbidden from bringing in any narcotics, pills or alcohol, and there are also no bars or liquor stores in the entire country. Convicted drug users are subjected to lengthy jail sentences, heavy fines, public floggings, or deportation, while the only punishment for drug trafficking in Saudi Arabia is death by hanging. The U.S. State Department also advises tourists that “Saudis make no exceptions.”

However, the strict laws hardly mean that drugs and alcohol are not to be found in Saudi Arabia. The conservative country has quickly become a hotbed for amphetamines, with the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime reporting that 30% of all the amphetamines seized worldwide came from Saudi Arabia. Most of the amphetamines used in Saudi Arabia come in the form of Captagon tablets, a synthetic stimulant used to treat Attention Deficit Disorders. Saudi authorities confiscated a staggering 70 million Captagon tablets last year and half of all rehab patients are Captagon addicts. Alcohol is also regularly consumed by Western expatriates, who often live in lavish compounds that allow them to drink booze brewed themselves in a secluded manner.

Rehabilitation Directories

Most Popular
The Rehab Review
Cliffside Malibu

The “beach-house-relaxed” Cliffside Malibu claims to provide an oasis for recovering addicts and alcoholics. And that’s just what you'll get—if you’ve got the cash.

Morningside Recovery

For a “rehab near the beach” experience that isn’t quite as costly as similar SoCal competitors, head to this Newport Beach treatment facility.

AToN Center

Whether you’re interested in the 12 Steps, SMART Recovery, or holistic treatments, this luxurious, appealing and commendable 4.5 star (our system doesn't yet show the 1/2 star) San Diego rehab has a program for you. 


This exclusive Northern California rehab is all about client choice—as well as golf outings, Buddhist field trips and keeping up with the office.

Capo By The Sea

Capo By The Sea offers an executive rehab program complete with medical detox and a focus on dual-diagnosis issues, as well as an outpatient option in an environment that exudes the kind of beach house optimism one would expect from an Orange County recovery outfit.

Journey Malibu

Want many of the luxury amenities A-listers have come to expect—including an enormous backyard with a pool and patio, an herb garden, a volleyball net and a spectacular vista of the Santa Monica mountains—with a recovery program to match?

The Ultimate Guide to Rehab

What you need to know when choosing an addiction treatment center.

the fix tv