Bleak outlook looms large over pharma industry

KARACHI - A bleak outlook looms large over of the Pharmaceutical Industry and it is apprehended that the country will be left with 50 production units by the end of next year as many pharmaceutical companies are winding up their business due the negative growth this year, TheNation learnt Saturday. It is learnt that out of total 427 units, some 50 local units have been shut down while a major pharmaceutical company is shifting its business to Thailand. The consequences of such business shut will result in massive price up of medicines that will be unbearable for the masses. The other aftermath feared as of blackmailing by the left over companies for increasing the prices of medicines and huge relief in terms of taxes and laws. Sources confided to this scribe that the government is causing closure of these units as measures taken in this regard are inflicting the industry such as sales tax on input of the licensed units, which is illegal, adding that a 50 percent subsidy announced to be borne by the TDAP has not been given for 3 years. The highest interest rate in Pakistan also makes it difficult for the industry to have a smooth registration while the overseas registration fees is $10,000 which is not reciprocal. Moreover, Pakistan ironically, offers the importers to register their medicines at the cost of just Rs15,000 with out any test of the said medicines. While talking to TheNation, former Pharmaceutical Association chairman Zahid Saeed pointed out that the TDAP does not offer any incentive to the Pharma Industry. Look, on one hand the government freight forwarders blackmail us while on the other hand, Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) being signed with other countries have no any reciprocity, he lamented. He elaborated that under the FTA even with China, they have no any benefit as registration fees for a single medicine is $15,000. After that, $20,000 clinical trial fees is charged and even then there is no guarantee of approval of that medicine being sold in China, he detailed. Interestingly, the government deduct 2 per cent charges in the name of Research and Development (R&D), which is not developed in Pakistan, while Indias Pharma Excel has established Pharma Development Fund (PDF), along with a R&D Fund under which the pharma industry is given loans on 4 per cent interest rate, which is very plausible, for their development and betterment, he added. He urged the government to immediately end the role of Health Ministry in the pharma industry, suggesting that it must be come under the control of the Ministry of Industries, adding that a separate institution should be established for the exports and a pharmaceutical development fund should also be set up in this regard. Moreover, only licence-holder pharmacists should be given access to the pharma development fund, he added. It is to be noted that the government, in the new Trade Policy, has announced the marketing of pharmaceutical products in international market. Therefore, the limit for physicians samples is also likely to be increased to 20% from the current 10 per cent at the time of launching the first shipment.

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