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Pharma sector demands relief package

September 27, 2007

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ISLAMABAD, Sept 26: The pharmaceutical manufacturers have asked the government to consider a relief package for the industry to make products competitive in international market.

The cost of production and manufacturing in Pakistan is one of the highest in the world. Nearly 90 per cent of the raw materials are imported, which are subject to customs duty and high logistics, transportation and insurance costs, they said.

An official source told Dawn on Wednesday that any further increase in the input cost will make the pharmaceutical products uncompetitive in international market and will turn this industry sick.

They maintained that if the government supported the pharmaceutical industry and shifted its near obsession of support from the textiles to pharmaceuticals, this industry has the potential to become a major regional player in terms of exports. It has the capacity to turn the country 100 per cent self sufficient in medicines from the current 85 per cent.

The official said that Pakistan needed every dollar of export that it could generate and it could ill afford imports of medicines due to an unfavourable trade deficit. This industry requires highly qualified manpower. The cost of power and water in Pakistan is twice as much as it is in China and is about 25 per cent higher than in India. Power and water distribution in most industrial sectors is erratic and in the summer months it is intermittent adding to even higher cost, he added.

According to statistics, pharmaceutical exports are growing at the rate of 29 per cent, while the local industry currently meets 85 per cent requirements of the country.

The official said that there was a tough competition from industrial giants

like China, India, eastern Europe and Turkey, etc.

A leading medicine exporter Khalid Mehmood said the best test of quality and competitiveness was the fact that the medicines produced in the country were increasingly being accepted by the patients, regulators, doctors and health authorities of over 50 countries.

Compared to the dwindling exports of the textile sector, pharmaceutical exports are growing at a satisfactory pace. “It is, therefore, pertinent that a careful analysis and review be made so that the government do not hasten into decisions that destroy this potentially promising high value-added manufacturing sector,” he added.