KARACHI: Chairman Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA), Jawed Akhai, has said that the sudden fall in pharmaceutical exports, which have gone from slowing down to actually shrinking, is the result of the disconnect between the industry and the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP).
The new laws, regulations, and the DRAP’s actions are discouraging the local industry from taking new initiatives and making new investments, resulting in falling pharmaceutical exports, Akhai said while speaking to a press conference at Marriott Hotel.
Listing down the problems faced by the industry, he said local manufacturers have voiced their complaints against sales tax on pharmaceutical industry and the almost non-existent pricing mechanism of medicines.
“The pharmaceutical industry is similar to other profit making industries. The pharmaceutical industry will continue to lose investors if it continues to face these problems,” said former chairman PPMA, Dr Kaiser Waheed, who was accompanying the PPMA chairman in the press conference.
Waheed said that DRAP’s stubborn attitude is resulting in the fall of pharmaceutical exports. According to Waheed, pharmaceutical exports grew at a rate of 37% three years ago, which dropped to 22% in the next year, and dropped to negative figures by a massive 17% in fiscal year 2012-13 due to unfavourable manufacturing conditions in the country.
Reiterating the strict position that PPMA has maintained for over a year, Akhai said most of the current problems faced by the industry are due to the indifference of DRAP officials who are not ready to accommodate the concerns of the industry.
DRAP was established under the DRAP Act, 2012, to provide coordination among the industry, ensure enforcement of the Drugs Act, 1976, and to bring harmony in inter-provincial trade.
Local industry has stopped manufacturing several essential drugs due to the prices fixed by the DRAP, he said, adding that this is why federal government should provide a level playing field to the local industry so that local production and exports can be increased.
Akhai said that pharmaceutical industry, which generates one of the highest number of white-collar jobs, has huge export potential. It has the capability to meet the export target of $1 billion by 2016 and $2 billion by 2020, from the current exports of $200 million, he claimed.
Waheed said that four multinational companies have already closed their operations in Pakistan and more are planning to shut down their plants due to non-supportive and discouraging policies from the government.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2013.