Pharma industry exports decline from US$250m in 2012 to US$160m in 2015 Islamabad Perturbed by the constant decline in export of medicines being manufactured in Pakistan, the Pakistan...
Pharma industry exports decline from US$250m in 2012 to US$160m in 2015
Perturbed by the constant decline in export of medicines being manufactured in Pakistan, the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Association (PPMA) Monday demanded the establishment of a National Pharma Export Council to achieve its target of increasing annual exports of the industry to US $5 billion in the next five years.
Speaking at a press conference, the central chairman of PPMA, Hamid Raza, termed “the ill-advised policies of the government and undue interference of the Ministry of Health” as key impediments to the growth of the pharmaceutical industry.
PPMA’s representatives including former chairman and central spokesman of the authority Dr. Kaiser Waheed, and member of the Central Executive Committee of the PPMA Zahid Saeed said, it was due to the present policies of the government that the pharmaceutical industry had failed to achieve its Vision 2020 of increasing exports of medicines from a mere US$200 million to US$5 billion on an annual basis.
The association’s leaders said that the growth of the pharmaceutical industry, which had been growing at the rate of 18% in 2014, has decreased to 13% in 2015. Likewise, annual exports, which stood at US$250 million in 2012, had decreased to an alarming US$160 million in 2015. They urged the government to do whatever it could within its resources and fiscal space to facilitate export of medicines being manufactured in Pakistan in order to accelerate the pace of economic growth of the country.
The PPMA officials proposed a fully autonomous status for the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), and an immediate halt to all undue interference in its affairs by the Ministry of Health. Hamid Raza said the main issue hampering the growth of the pharmaceutical industry is shortage of qualified manpower persisting in DRAP ever since its establishment in 2012.
The PPMA demanded deletion of Section-12 of the Drugs Act-1976 as it said there is no point for the government to continue with its powers to determine the price of every medicine available in the market. Instead, an amendment should be incorporated into the Drugs Act-1976 wherein the government should only have powers to regulate prices of over 200 drugs included in WHO’s Model List of Essential Medicines, as is the case in India and Bangladesh.
The PPMA said that owing to undue powers of the government to check and control the price of every medicine in the market, some 30 essential life-saving drugs had been in short supply in the local market.
The PPMA representatives said billions of rupees were lying unused in Central Research Fund maintained by the Ministry of Health as pharmacutical companies had been contributing 1% of their profits towards this fund since 1976 for research on development of new medicines. “The industry, on an alternative basis, should get access to this fund so that it can be utilized for its growth, specially from the point of view of exports-related requirements,” they said.
The leaders of the pharmaceutical industry maintained that medicines manufactured in Pakistan could not get easy access to regional and international markets as their prices had irrationally been fixed by the government, using the powers bestowed upon it under Section 12 of the Drugs Act.
They demanded that DRAP should clear, with a month, all pending cases of registration of new medicines being invented and developed by the local industry. They informed newsmen that pendency of cases of registration of new medicines had increased to over 10,000 as industry people who had applied to DRAP for registration of their new products as long as six years back had yet to get registration certificates from the authority.
The PPMA leaders urged the government to withdraw undue taxes and duties being levied on equipment and machinery being imported for the expansion of the pharmaceutical industry. PPMA also proposed setting up a task force for achieving its Vision-2020. The senior vice president of PPMA Nadeem Chandna also spoke on the occasion.