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Tuesday May 21, 2024

Pharma industry seeks reforms

By Our Correspondent
April 18, 2024
A representational image of a chemist looking for medicines in his store. — AFP/File
A representational image of a chemist looking for medicines in his store. — AFP/File

LAHORE: The Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) has called for an update to existing drug laws in line with global trends to better serve patients and the pharmaceutical industry, according to PPMA Chairman Mian Khalid Misbah.

Local industries are shutting down due to historically high input costs, the highest inflation and bank markup rates in Asia. Excessive regulations are causing multinationals to disappear, with only four currently operating in the country, all of which have reported historically high losses recently. "Patients are the ultimate sufferers and the situation is going from bad to worse," Misbah said.

He stressed the need for timely government intervention to save the pharmaceutical industry for the larger interests of the country and its ailing population.Misbah praised the Federal Government's decision to deregulate prices of non-essential drugs, saying it will provide much-needed relief for survival and attract investment in the sector. However, he emphasized that more needs to be done to bring the pharmaceutical sector's regulations up to par with neighbouring countries and make it an attractive market for investment.

He highlighted the severe shortage caused by inordinate delays in fixing/revising prices of hundreds of essential drugs. For instance, the delay in hardship price revision of Tegral, a medicine for seizures, resulted in it being sold at Rs. 3,000 or more, which is four times the proposed revised price. "Such long unnecessary delays result in counterfeit and smuggled medicines entering the market and patients fare the worst," he said.

Misbah urged the government to increase the health budget from 1 percent to 2 percent to provide free life-saving essential drugs to patients at government hospitals, similar to other countries in the world.