Strict price control of drugs has created uncertainty for pharma industry-Jawed Akhai


 Proceedings of Pakistan Pharma Summit-III

Strict price control of drugs has created
uncertainty for pharma industry - Jawed Akhai

We need to target the developed countries through exports
and with the expiry of many patents, we have lot of opportunities

LAHORE: Mr. Jawed Akhai, Chairman Martin Dow made a Thematic presentation on Pakistan’s Pharma industry at the Pakistan Pharma Summit-III organized by PPMA here from July 24-25, 2017. It was attended by a large number of representatives from different sections of the pharma industry, regulatory agencies besides academia. During his presentation while he talked about the problems faced by the industry he also highlighted its success story. However, the industry, he said, could do much better provided the regulatory framework, was helpful and supportive. Pharma is a Sunrise industry which can lead to economic prosperity.

Mr. Jawed Akhai

Speaking about the global pharma industry, Mr. Jawed Akhai said that it was a difficult times due to health insurance programmes, stringent governments with traditional pricing mechanism and decreasing healthcare budgets. In an environment of strict price control, it was difficult to navigate. Internal culture of the companies also matters. He was of the view that it time that we reconsider about the business model. Competent pharma industry specialists should work for PPMA which should advice the regulatory bodies on regulatory issues, pricing and all this should be aimed at facilitating the pharma industry. At present returns on investments are volatile. We are faced with the disruptive times, challenging times and it calls for restructuring our policies. In Pakistan we are facing lot of regulatory constraints. Challenges which we are facing in Pakistan are different from the industry and business worldwide. Regulators are taking steps for innovations. FDA and European Union are taking much less time for registration. At times they offer out of the queue help and are all the time prepared to discuss out of the box solutions. This is what is needed in Pakistan as well, he remarked.

Patients in Pakistan also deserve early access to safe and effective drugs. But what happens, SROs are issued without taking the pharma industry into confidence. Pakistan Pharma industry Mr. Jawed Akhar said was still very young but even then we meet over 90% of Pakistan’s drugs requirements. We are fortunate. There are countries in the world who are totally dependent on imports. However due to unpredictable regulatory process, inconsistencies we are not sure about the turnaround time. Authorities do not appreciate and realize the problems faced by the pharma industry. He suggested that pharma industry should be exempted from Sales Tax. We cannot claim it from the Government and we cannot pass it on to the patients either. However, in the long run, it becomes part of the cost and then it is a burden on the patients because it becomes part of the cost of production.

Dr. Musaddiq Malik presenting Mementoes to Dr. Qadeer Khokhar and Mr. Ijaz Siddiqui
during the Third Pakistan Pharma Summit held at Lahore recently.

Talking about the counterfeit drugs, Mr. Jawed Akhai said that let us proceed with a positive frame of mind. Pakistan Pharma industry is facing lot of problems. The menace of counterfeit drugs cannot be checked so easily. We need to target the developed countries through exports. Let us not remain dependent on the domestic market. Time lines should be agreed and let us take three to five years to get new technology but SROs require compliance within six months which is not feasible. He alleged that DRAP people were not competent enough to decide about times for implementing new technologies. They do not realize the importance of these issues as they do not do their homework properly. DRAP is not interested to compensate the cost which the industry has to incur on bringing in new technologies. It should offer appropriate prices. Increase of price is a burden on the patient but in short term it is a burden on the industry. In the medium and long term, it should be part of the cost of the drugs for the patients. Let the Government and DRAP share this cost by encouraging exports of drugs. Support the Pakistani Pharma industry in exports. Billions of rupees collected from the pharma industry in the name of Research Fund should be used to help the pharma industry. What good this Fund has done so far, he asked. Licensing and Registration has been expedited but a lot more is needed. No registration of Vitamins is being offered but we all know that these preparations are being regularly imported into the country at a much higher cost. Delay for ten to fifteen years is not understandable.

Strict price control of drugs, Mr. Jawed Akhai said has created uncertainty for the pharma industry. A large number of multinationals have left Pakistan which should be an eye opener for the government and the regulatory agencies. We should aim at boosting the country’s economy with exports working with the DRAP. Negative mindset of the regulators in DRAP needs to be changed. There’s a huge trust deficit. Future of the pharma industry looks bright with lot of opportunities despite all this. With the expiry of many patents, we have lot of opportunities. When we decided to acquire a drug manufacturing plant in France, the French Government, Mr. Jawed Akhai said facilitated this but in Pakistan, government officials are not receptive. French Government helped us even with the European Union to accelerate the licensing process and the plant was certified within no time. With government support, we can do much better. He recalled that when they requested the government authorities in Pakistan for early inspection of their plant and quick registration of products as huge investments made was lying idle, their response was, “it is your problem and not our headache”. He concluded his presentation by stating that potential was there but business friendly positive environment is not there. We need to expand our potentials. He hoped that the officials of DRAP and other regulators will respond to these issues.

Mian Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman

Mian Mujtaba Shuja-ur-Rehman Minister of Excise and Taxation, Government of Punjab who was chairing this session in his speech said that most of the issues highlighted relate to the Federal Government. He hoped that they will respond to it. As regards Punjab Drugs Amendments At 2017, the Cabinet Committee formed by the Punjab Chief Minister has held discussions with the representatives of the pharma industry. We have made lot of progress and hopefully it will be passed in the coming Punjab Assembly session. He assured to extend all possible help and assistance to the pharma industry. He then briefly talked about the measures taken by the Government of Pakistan to end load shedding, making lot of investments in the power and energy sector, building roads network, establishing industrial zones. All this has helped the economy to grow from 3, 8% to 5.3%. Government is also working in the agriculture sector. CPEC is a great opportunity. We should all work together to develop the country and bright future for Pakistan, he remarked.