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Govt blamed for ailing drugs industry

KARACHI: The Pharma Bureau, a representative body of multinational pharmaceutical companies operating in Pakistan, has blamed the go...

Govt blamed for ailing drugs industry

KARACHI: The Pharma Bureau, a representative body of multinational pharmaceutical companies operating in Pakistan, has blamed the government for the comparatively weaker performance of drugs industry.
The country’s pharmaceutical market stands at $2.3 billion with 600 companies compared to India’s $21bn with 25,000 companies, Arshad Hussain, the bureau’s co-chairman, said during a press briefing on Tuesday. He said the India’s market was likely to more than double to reach $45bn by 2020.
“Pakistan’s medicine exports are just $190 million as against India’s $15.5bn while projected export of India would reach $25bn in 2014-15. Pakistan has no USFDA/MHRA approved plants as against 523 in India. Raw material availability for drug making is 30 per cent in Pakistan compared to 70pc in India,” he said.
“The India’s industry and its exports are thriving whereas Pakistan’s pharmaceutical industry has been struggling to survive in a lopsided regulatory environment where the focus is on price control at the cost of quality standards. These factors are resulting in shortage of essential medicines, stifling industry’s growth and depressed profitability.”


He said lack of a functioning regulatory environment conforming to international standards had been the main impediment to the industry’s growth. This lack, he said, was also an obstacle to articulating a policy under which prices are adjusted predictably and transparently.
Hussain said the government has drafted a drug pricing policy which “is neither in the interest of patients, the country nor the industry”. The policy did not reflect numerous discussions held between the industry and the government over the past eight years, he said. “We have expressed our serious reservations on this draft to the government.”
The draft policy envisages a rollback of the 15pc interim relief and further price cut of 30pc (against their own calculation of 94pc price increase) even though prices in Pakistan “are amongst the lowest in the world”, he said, adding that the draft policy discourages investment into quality manufacturing.
Implementing the policy would lead to severe shortage of essential and life-saving medicines (insulin, anti-cancer drugs, TB, anti-epileptic, vaccines, polio, antibiotics, cardiovasculars, paracetamol, etc), he said.
Moreover, drugs would become cheaper for the rich and more expensive for the poor, and the programmes under which thousands of poor critically ill patients are provided with the latest life-saving therapies for free would be threatened, he added.

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