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LAHORE, June 29: Federal Minister for National Regulations and Services Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan has said no new drug policy will be framed and implemented without consulting stakeholders.

Speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Friday, the federal minister said her ministry was working on new laws to govern alternative medicines, including herbal drugs.

LCCI President Irfan Qaiser Sheikh, senior vice-president Kashif Younis Meher, vice-president Saeeda Nazar, former presidents Iftikhar Ali Malik, Mian Misbahur Rehman and pharma industry’s representatives Khawaja Shahzeb Akram, Mian Asad Shujaur Rehman, Amjad Ali Jawa and Asad Ejaz Mumtaz also spoke.

Ms Awan said the government was working to ensure all facilities to the masses and it was equally aware of the challenges being faced by the private sector, particularly pharmaceuticals. She said the pharmaceutical sector registered 19 per cent growth this year therefore the government would encourage new investment in this area. She asked drug manufacturers to submit a ‘pricing formula’ for medicines, keeping in view the interests of all stakeholders, especially consumers.

Ms Awan said the government would approve a “balanced formula” that would take care of interests of manufacturers and end consumers, keeping in view the rate of inflation in the country and prices in the international market.

“The government knows the importance of pharmaceutical industry worth $2 billion that is providing employment to four million skilled workers in the country,” she said, adding that multinational pharmaceutical companies were contributing enormously to availability of quality drugs. She said there was a huge potential for more foreign investment in the pharmaceutical sector.

The ministry, she said, would strive to provide an enabling environment for expansion of existing companies and investment in new companies. She said the government had taken steps on regulatory front during the last couple of months. She said all backlog and pending issues due to dysfunction of authority would be cleared over the next few days. The minister urged drug manufacturers to introduce the culture of self-accountability and transparency.

Speaking on the occasion, Irfan Qaiser Sheikh said new regulations being framed should be low cost, easy to comply with and smart.

He said drug regulations were hampering growth of pharma sector. He said it was good to establish the Drug Regulatory Agency of Pakistan, but it was not functioning properly.

The LCCI president said delay in getting new drug licences and renewal of old licences needed government attention. The LCCI came to know that almost 14,000 drug registration applications were pending.

Many pharma companies wanted to enhance the ambit of their licences, but they could not proceed without DRAP approval. He said drug price control was another issue that should be resolved because of prevalent inflation in Pakistan.