KARACHI: Yet to recover from a recent shock, Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) may face another blow as some of its key members are expected to leave the association over growing differences. PPMA’s chief, however, denied there was any group within the association that can split it.
Last week, PPMA’s former vice chairman Tariq Ikram backfired at the association by announcing his resignation at an important press conference meant for expressing the association’s concerns over judicial probe into the incident of Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) case. Ikram resigned in protest as he was asked not to share some of his thoughts on the industry and the defunct regulator.
His decision not only surprised fellow members but also exacerbated existing cracks within the lobby.
Confirming there were subdivisions within the pharma lobby, a pharma official – who requested not to be named – said the association may lose some key members if it is not restructured.
With difference of opinion over a majority of issues, the official said, it is hard to have a united stance on a given issue – something that was apparent in PPMA’s press conference last week. The official also expressed displeasure over some of the information that Ikram wanted to share with the media. Ikram should not have talked about the investment capability of pharmaceuticals because each company has its own limitations, he said.
While differences of opinion existed among all PPMA members contacted by The Express Tribune, they maintained that the entire association had a uniform opinion about judicial investigation into the PIC incident that claimed over 130 lives in Punjab.
Some members, therefore, want restructuring of PPMA, the source said. There should be one representative from each sector or group within the body to defend their interests, he said, which will make it easier to reach a uniform opinion over important issues. If it is not restructured, some members will dissociate from this body; the source said, and might break it.
On the contrary, PPMA Chairman Muhammad Asad categorically denied if the lobby would split or restructure. He said that PPMA is a democratic body and difference of opinion does exist among members at times but it is always resolved within the forum.
There may be a few members who want to form a separate group and no one can stop them, Asad said. However, the only representative body registered with the commerce ministry is PPMA and no other group or lobby will have legal mandate to represent the national pharma industry, he said.
PPMA covers about 300 pharmaceuticals; if some members dissociate them from this umbrella, Asad said, it doesn’t represent the majority’s view – which indeed represent the whole industry.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 21st, 2012.