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Pharma export

July 17, 2017

BANGLADESH exported medicines worth $249 million in fiscal year 2015-2016 compared to Pakistan’s medicines exports of only $103 million. Medicine exports have the potential to be Bangladesh’s second largest foreign exchange earner after garments. It is set to penetrate the medicine market in the United States, Germany, France, the UK and Japan. It is unfortunate that despite immense potential, Pakistan’s pharmaceutical industry cannot match Bangladesh.

This is because the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan has imposed huge fees on documenting medicines for exports besides other irrational restrictions. The DRAP attitude is the cause of our country’s low medicinal exports and needs major restructuring.

The authority should allow the industry the third party contract manufacturing facility, certifying itself with the World Health Organization or Pharmaceutical Inspections Convention Scheme besides withdrawing the high slabs of duties and sales tax on pharma manufacturing. It should also incorporate a host of other measures necessary for medicinal exports. Neighboring countries are already ahead of Pakistan in pharma exports and offer lucrative incentives to new investment in this sector.

DRAP’s policy of discouraging the global practice of contract manufacturing in Pakistan’s pharmaceutical companies is causing a shortage of low-priced medicines.

A continuation of this policy will further slow down the availability of lifesaving drugs as companies have reduced the production of many important life saving drugs on the plea that they are incurring losses.

The government needs to address the pharmaceutical manufacturers’ grievances and devise a policy to help Pakistan’s medicine exports which have a potential of around half a billion dollars annually.

Kashif Mustafa Qadri

Karachi

Published in Dawn, July 17th, 2017