PPMA shows concern over decline in pharma exports



Expressing concern over constant decline in Pakistan’s medicine exports, the national body representing pharmaceutical manufacturers on Friday demanded the establishment of a national-level Pharma Export Council to achieve its target of increasing annual exports of the industry to $5 billion in the next 5 years.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association (PPMA) Chairman Hamid Raza said that ill advised policies of the government and undue interference by National Health Services Ministry had caused serious impediments to growth of the pharma industry.

The PPMA’s representatives, including former chairman Dr Kaiser Waheed and Zahid said that with present non-conducive policies of the govt, pharma industry of the country could not achieve its “Vision-2020” for increasing medicine exports from a mere $200 million $5 billion per year.

The association’s leaders said that the industry had grown at a rate of 18 per cent in 2014 but the growth rate decreased to 13 per cent in 2015. Likewise, exports of the pharma industry stood at $250 million on annual basis in 2012, which decreased to the alarming level of $160 million in 2015.

They said that the govt should do whatever it could within its resources and available fiscal space for facilitating export of medicines being manufactured in Pakistan for accelerating the pace of economic growth of the country.

The PPMA officials said that Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) should be made truly autonomous as it is the state’s regulator for pharma industry and related market issues. Undue interference of Ministry of National Health Services in affairs of DRAP should be stopped forthwith for the sake of Authority’s autonomy. The federal ministry itself has been continuing against the spirit of the constitution as after the 18th Constitutional Amendment the subject of health has been completely devolved from the centre to the provinces, the officials said.

PPMA Chairman Hamid Raza said that the main issue hampering the growth of pharma industry was shortage of required qualified manpower which persisted in DRAP since the time the Authority had come into existence in 2012. They said that billions of rupees had been lying unused in Central Research Fund maintained by Health Ministry as pharma companies had been contributing one per cent of their profits towards this fund since 1976 for doing research for development of new medicines. The industry on alternative basis should get access to this fund purely utilising the unused finances for its growth keeping in view the exports-related requirements.

They demanded that Section 12 of the Drugs Act-1976 should be repealed as there was no point for the government to continue with its powers to determine the price of every medicine available in the market. Instead an amendment should be incorporated into the Drugs Act-1976 where the government should only have powers to regulate prices of over 200 drugs included in WHO’s Model List of Essential Medicines.

They said that owing to undue powers of the government to check and control price of every medicine in the market, some 30 essential life-saving drugs had been in short supply in the local pharmaceutical market. They told media personnel that in Bangladesh and India, governments had powers only to control prices of essential medicines as per the list of WHO.