Pharma industrialists demand rise in drug prices


KARACHI: Chairman of Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) Saeed Allahwala has demanded to increase prices of medicines in Pakistan.

Addressing a press conference at a local hotel Wednesday, said that 61 percent of top 28 selling medicine brands are cheaper in Pakistan as compared to India and even Bangladesh. However, 39 percent of these top selling brands are a costlier in Pakistan than in India.

He said government should focus on four major initiatives to develop pharmaceutical sector. It should be reformed and rationalized to support public health and industry performance, and incentives be offered to invest in FDA-quality plants to gain access to largest export markets. Contract manufacturing should be allowed without limitation and the government should set high and uniform quality standards.

He further said that there is misconception about pharma industry that it is earning huge profits. “Some people claim that drugs in Pakistan are costly as compared to India but in fact, 61 percent of 28 top selling pharmaceutical brands are cheaper here than India and even Bangladesh. Only 39 percent of these top selling brands are a bit costly than India which in not a big issue.

He said pharma industry is in dire need of raising medicines prices to be saved from more losses. He said after 2001, the cost of production and utility services, transport and other expenses has now risen by 300% but ironically the government has done nothing to address this grave situation. Since 2001 to 2013, cost of general items is increased by 467 percent, fuel and lighting 53, transportation and communication 90, non-food items 63, groceries like flour 338, sugar 155, petrol 230, fresh milk 538 and chicken price is increased by 316 percent. Now, owing to this situation how this industry can survive without price rationalization, he asked.

Referring to Pakistan Business Development Plan and National Trade Corridor Sector Strategy report launched by Planning Commission of Pakistan, he told that pharma companies have seen low declining profitability leading to lack of investment in FDA certified plants.

There are 90 FDA certified plants in India while Italy has 40. China 22, Taiwan 10, Bangladesh 4, Jordan has three, such plants but unfortunately Pakistan has not a single plant which is certified by FDA. Since 2006 to 2008 profitability percentage of Glaxo Smith Kline is decreased from 22 to 14, Abbott Laboratories Pakistan 23, to 6, Wyeth Pakistan Limited 20, to 10 which depict the actual picture of business environment. There is a global ratio of pharmaceutical profitability of less than 30 percent which can only be dreamed by us, he lamented.

Due to pricing issue, availability of essential drugs in Pakistan is becoming a grave issue. Percentage of availability of essential drugs is 65 in public and 95 in private sector in Tunisia, 50% in public and 90% in private in Sudan, 28% in public and 80% in private in Jordan, 18% in public and 5% in private sector in Kuwait, 8% in public and 73% in private in Yemen while this is just four percent in public and 25 percent in private sector in Pakistan.

He said that about 100 pharmaceutical factories had been closed during 15 years and it was feared that more would face closure. “Five lacs people are directly linked to this industry. The delay in the price raise will cause further shortage of medicines in the market and ultimately sale of substandard and smuggled medicines will get a boost, which will endanger the health of millions of patients in the country.”

He appealed to Prime Minister, Finance Minister and Health Minister to ply their due role to increase the prices of drugs for ending crippling crises hitting pharmaceutical industry hard and save it from heavy losses.

Mohammad Zakaurrehman, Chairman Price Committee, Dr Shaikh Qaisar Waheed, Chairman Media Committee, Syed Haroon Qasim and other PPMA members were present in the occasion.

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