KARACHI: Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association (PPMA) Central Chairman Dr Kaiser Waheed urged the government to digitalise the entire process of submission of cases by drug companies for registration and price increases and bring it online.
“This [bringing registration system online] will not only facilitate the industry but also discourage corruption in the system,” Waheed said while speaking at the launching of a software system by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) at its Karachi office the other day.
The software, called ‘Drap-Team’, is aimed at online tracking, evaluation and monitoring of functioning of both the pharmaceutical firms and Drap field offices in the country.
He cautiously welcomed launching of the software system, saying that it was premature on the part of the drug sector regulator to make such an effort until all the processes and subjects of Drap related to the Pharma industry were made available online.
“It is implausible on the part of Drap to run a software programme, in isolation, without converting the entire system online for the applicants of different cases of medicines on behalf of the industry,” a press release quoted Waheed as saying.
“Our biggest issue is that a large part of the industry in Pakistan is not technically advanced enough to acquire such a technology on its own,” he said, adding that as a result it will take some time for the process to become effective.
“For the time being the adoption of this software should be done on a voluntary basis by the industry,” said the PPMA chairman.
Currently, pharmaceutical companies’ officials have to appear in Islamabad for registration of new medicines and any other issue the particular company faces. Waheed said the process is cumbersome and requires constant follow-ups by the concerned officials due to red-tape and inefficiencies in the current system.
He also said that instances of corruption in Drap’s official processes would be minimized if the entire system goes online. Drap Chief Executive Officer Dr. Muhammad Aslam said that the drug industry regulator had to depend on manual operations for completing its documentation and work processes.
He expressed gratitude for the help extended by State Health Minister and other officials of Drap for obtaining the capability to use the software system for online tracking and monitoring of both field Drap offices and Pharma companies in the country.
Drap CEO said the software will not only reduce the processing time of clearance cases for imports and exports of pharmaceutical products, but also allow assessment of reporting system in bringing transparency, efficiency and accountability in the system. He also said that at initial stage the software had been successfully installed and was working at DRAP office in Lahore.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2017.