PPMA shows concern over decline in Pharma export

Islamabad: Expressing concern over constant decline in medicines’ exports of Pakistan, the national body representing pharmaceutical manufacturers on Friday demanded establishment of a Pakistan-level Pharma Export Council to achieve its target of increasing annual exports of the industry to 05 billion US Dollars in next 05 years.

Speaking at a press conference here on Monday, Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association (PPMA) Chairman Hamid Raza said that ill-advised policies of the government and undue interference by National Health Services ministry had caused serious impediments to growth of the Pharma industry.

The PPMA’s representatives, including former Chairman Dr Kaiser Waheed and Zahid said that with present non-conducive policies of the govt, Pharma industry of the country could not achieve its “Vision-2020” for increasing medicines’ exports from mere 200 million dollars to 05 billion dollars on annual basis.

The association’s leaders said that Pharma industry had been growing at the rate of 18 per cent in 2014 as growth of the industry had decreased to 13 per cent in 2015. Likewise, exports of the Pharma industry stood at 250 million US dollars on annual basis in 2012, which had decreased to the alarming extent of 160 million US Dollars in 2015.

They said that govt should do whatever it could within its resources and fiscal space for facilitating exports of medicines duly being manufactured in Pakistan for accelerating pace of economic growth of the country.

The PPMA officials said that Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) should be made autonomous on true lines being the State’s regulator for Pharma industry and related market issues. Undue interference of Ministry of National Health Services in affairs of DRAP should be stopped forthwith for sake of autonomy of the authority. The federal ministry itself has been continuing against the spirit of the Constitutional as after 18 th Constitutional Amendment the subject of Health was completely devolved from the centre to the provinces.

The PPMA Chairman Hamid Raza said main issue hampering the growth of Pharma industry was shortage of required qualified manpower persisting in DRAP since the time the authority had come into existence in 2012. They said that billions of rupees had been lying unused in Central Research Fund maintained by Health ministry as Pharma companies had been contributing one per cent of their profits towards this fund since 1976 for doing research for development of new medicines. The industry on alternative basis should get access to this fund purely utilizing the unused finances for its growth especially from point of view of exports-related requirements.

They demanded that Section-12 of the Drugs Act-1976 should be deleted as there was no point for the govt to continue with its powers to determine price of every medicine available in the market. Instead an amendment should be incorporated into the Drugs Act-1976 where the govt should only have powers to regulate prices of over 200 drugs included in WHO’s Model List of Essential Medicines.

They said that owing to undue powers of the govt to check and control price of every medicine in the market, some 30 essential life-saving drugs had been in short supply in the local Pharma market. They divulged to media persons that in Bangladesh and India, governments there had powers only to control prices of essential medicines as per the list of WHO.

The leaders of Pharma industry said that medicines manufactured in Pakistan could not get easy access to regional and international markets as their prices had irrationally been fixed by the govt here using its powers bestowed under Section-12 of the Drugs Act.

They demanded that DRAP should clear in month’s time pendency of 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 govt to withdraw undue taxes and duties being levied on equipment and machinery being imported for expansion of Pharma industry of the country. Also on the occasion, The PPMA proposed setting up a task force for achieving its “Vision-2020” for growth of medicines’ exports as it would comprise of representatives of Trade Development Authority, DRAP, and PPMA. Under the same vision, the PPMA plans to establish at least 10 FDA (US Food and Drug Administration)-accredited medicines’ manufacturing units in Pakistan whose produce could be exported anywhere in the world. Those who spoke at the press conference included Central Chairman of PPMA Hamid Raza, central spokesman of the authority Dr Kaiser Waheed, its Senior Vice-President Nadeem Chandna, and member of Central Executive Committee of the authority Zahid Saeed.