Shedding light on the predicament of the pharmaceutical industry, a leading drug manufacturer, Getz Pharma, has come up with mixed views about the new drug policy.
“In the past, the pharmaceutical sector suffered from several ailments,” said Getz Pharma Chief Executive Officer Khalid Mahmood.
Still, according to him, the industry is riddled with numerous problems including an inconsistent government policy, a long delay in registration and limited harmonisation with developed countries of the region, the Saarc bloc and the eastern Mediterranean. Additionally, there has been no consistent pricing policy.
“At this point, Pakistan requires a strong and thorough drug policy,” remarked Mahmood.
Exhibiting optimism, he said the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) has taken several positive steps that will benefit the industry. He reposed confidence in the recently appointed CEO of the regulator, Dr Muhammad Aslam, who has a doctorate in pharmacy.
He believes that with the new leadership, the organisation will be better equipped to grapple with the challenges faced by the industry as no department can develop without a proper leadership.
Mahmood was of the view that the government had formulated policies that would work to the advantage of both local companies and multinationals. However, of late, some of the steps taken by the authorities were not in favour of domestic companies.
Talking about the growth recorded by Getz Pharma, the CEO said though the overall annual average market growth was 12%, the company experienced a rise of 30%.
Though the price freeze of 2001 forced many companies to reduce production, Getz Pharma managed to expand exports and earnings reached Rs4.5 billion in 2014 against total revenue of Rs17 billion.
Mahmood voiced hope that future policies of the government would help them achieve their targets and fulfill their aim of being ranked among the region’s top 10 pharmaceutical companies. He considers China, Japan, South Korea and Australia part of the region.
“This vision will be achieved only if the government provided the sector with suitable facilities and ensured a consistent policy. We eventually want a US FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) approval for exports to Europe and the west, which are highly regulated markets,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2015.