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Pakistan drug exports steady at $103m, but volume dips

Pakistan drug exports steady at $103m, but volume dips

KARACHI: A lesser volume of quality pharmaceutical products from Pakistan fetched a better price in July-Dec 2015-16.

Figures of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) showed that 5,611 tonnes of pharma products worth $103.3 million were exported in July-Dec 2015-16 as compared to 7,933 tonnes products worth $104.3m in the corresponding period last year.

The volume was short by 29 per cent but the fall in value was not as steep.

In 2014-2015, medicine exports earned $208m from exports of 14,621 tonnes as compared to $176m from 15,182 tonnes in 2013-2014, depicting a 4pc drop in quantity and 18.4pc rise in value.

“It’s a positive sign that low value-added goods are being replaced by high value-added goods which is evident from PBS data,” former chairman Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA), Zahid Saeed said.

He informed that the pharma industry was exporting new molecules of higher value and these were being accepted by importing countries.

“Generally it takes two to three years to get the products registered. This process includes the acceptance of dossier by the concerned authority, scrutiny and queries, reply of queries by applicant, site master file submission by applicant /manufacturer for approval of manufacturing site, etc, all at the expense of applicant along with payment of requisite registration fee,” he said.

In case the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) goes through the process of certifying itself with World Health Organisation (WHO) or Pharmaceutical Inspections Convention Scheme (PICS), inspections will be waived by the regulatory authorities in a large number of countries, he explained. “This will shorten the registration period of dossiers to 6-8 months and will have a big impact on the cost,” he added.

He said the pharmaceutical industry was obliged to maintain Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) which demanded huge expense.

Unfortunately, the pharma manufacturing, HVAC, clean rooms and QC equipment are subject to highest slabs of duties and sales tax which is non-comprehensible, he lamented.

He said the capacity expansion (CAPEX) is always encouraged for enhancement of quality and quantity of production. However, the current policies of the government seem to discourage them.

Compared to us, the neighbouring countries are already way ahead in pharma exports and are allowing heavy incentives on CAPEX for new investments as well as BMR, he said.

Recently, the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and High Commission of Pakistan in Sri Lanka announced taking Pakistan’s pharmaceutical exports to Sri Lanka to $1 billion under the free trade agreement (FTA).

However, Pakistan has been unable to make real inroads into the Sri Lankan market despite extensive and wide-ranging concessions from both sides.

Zahid said it was difficult to achieve the $1bn mark as Pakistani pharma products were not among the major products exported to Sri Lanka.

He said Pakistan has only utilised 29pc of the FTA concessions.

The government agencies need to realise that pharmaceutical exports cannot increase until the pricing issue is resolved as international buyers always ask for local prices of medicines for reference.

The government offers pharmaceutical companies to export medicines at a price of their choice but this is clearly not feasible as international buyers will always ask for local prices.

He said additionally DRAP has imposed huge fees on documenting the medicines for exports.

Lack of FDA approval is another barrier. The production units are unable to comply with the standards of WHO.

Courtesy : Dawn News



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