Improvement in Pakistan’s Health Indicators is our collective responsibility-Mrs. Sara Afzal Tarar


 Govt. will provide support and ease in doing business

Improvement in Pakistan’s Health Indicators is
our collective responsibility-Mrs. Sara Afzal Tarar

Dr. Aslam calls for close collaboration
between DRAP and Pharma industry

KARACHI: While talking about health and social indicators and healthcare cost, prevailing conditions in different countries must also be kept in mind. In Pakistan political governments are not allowed to function freely and hurdles are created in their working by disgruntled politicians. Health indicators is a complex issue. It was not only the Government but collective responsibility of the society. Government was not against the pharmaceutical industry. We have to move forward and let me reassure the Pharma industry representatives of Government’s full support to provide them ease in doing business. These views were expressed by Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar Minister of State for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination. She was speaking at the Second Pakistan Pharma Summit organized by PPMA at Karachi on May 3rd 2016 where she was the chief guest.

Continuing Mrs. Sara Afzal Tarar said that honest diagnosis is the first step towards proper treatment. We need to provide drugs at affordable prices. Pakistan has a high potential for export of drugs and we in the government will facilitate it. You are concerned about your business but we are accountable to the people of Pakistan. We are going through Media Trial and I still continue to work as a Minister. We have to face NAB and FIA which are conducting enquiries on complaints lodged with them. We are working hard but she agreed that things were not improving the way we wish to but there was no lack of commitment, she hastened to add. In the past Ministry of Health was donor driven Ministry. For increased spending for social sector, we need to improve our tax collection system.

As regards Bangladesh, they,Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar pointed out have fixed the minimum age for marriage. They have successfully controlled increase in fertility but in Pakistan, we have some families in Baluchistan which has at an average twenty children. We wish to improve the working of DHQ and Tehsil Hospitals and when we try to post doctors, they are reluctant to go there. There are some administrative issues in the ministry as well and we need to sort them out. DRAP, she accepted, also has some capacity issues. We cannot improve our KPI unless we work together at all levels. By supporting each other, we can move forward. We need good people. There are some differences but we have to work together which will make a difference. Transparency is a major issue in DRAP. She asked the pharmaceutical industry to help the Ministry. Do not give anything to anyone and don’t be afraid, and those who try to harass you will be taken care of. We are providing technical support to the provinces. Since now we have different party governments in different provinces, it also ensures a healthy competition. We have provided Rs. 145 Million for improvement of facilities at CDL and soon it will be approved by WHO.

Dr. M. Aslam Afghani Chief Operating Officer DRAP speaking at the occasion said that pharmaceutical industry have to go for challenges for the future. DRAP will be engaging and supporting you. However, we must not forget patient’s perspective. Patient is today more empowered and knows about their diseases. We have to provide value to our patients as products. Business is to serve the society, profits will also come in and this will be long lasting. Health is right of the people. Our KPIs are under development with DRAP and from July 1st onward it will be on the DRAP website.

Devolution of Health to the provinces from 2010 to 2015 has created certain problems with which we have been trying to overcome. As regards registration of drugs, we had 3,700 cases pending of which 3.200 cases have been decided. We received 2,200 more applications some of which were incomplete and the companies were asked to provide the missing documents. As regards licensing, we have no application pending.  Appellate Board has also decided all the cases. Pricing is a very sensitive issue. Access to medicines is also a right of the people. We must provide them safe, effective drugs at affordable prices. We in DRAP have to have patient focused people centered policy. We have to talk about sustainability and consumer satisfaction has to be ensured. New drug pricing policy has been designed and rules have been made to improve it. We wish to facilitate the industry and we consider them our partners. We have to ensure that patient is getting value for what he or she is buying. High cost of drugs leads to compliance issues with the therapy prescribed. New technology is supporting the patients to get personalized treatment. How many companies have prepared themselves for that, he asked.

Continuing Dr. Aslam said that by the end of this year, Central Drugs Laboratory will be approved by WHO and FDA. Work is going on. Provincial drug testing laboratories will also be developed which will be pre-qualified by 2016-2017. All pending cases of drugs registration will be decided by October 2016. He was of the view that close collaboration is needed between the DRAP and the pharmaceutical industry. We have undertaken training and development of our staff and we have discussed these issues with the Pharma industry. Representatives from US Pharmacopeia are coming to Pakistan for training of DRAP staff and PI staff. Twelve Drug Inspectors are being sent for training for PCIS inspection.

Our drugs exports are static or declining because so far we have been exporting to less regulated markets where prices are also low. WHO teams have visited two pharmaceutical plants i.e. Gets Pharma and CCL in Pakistan and there were no major critical findings. Issues of toll manufacturing will be resolved and annual prices increase formula has been prepared. After the expiry of patient, we are also going for price reduction of certain drugs. Orphan drugs policy has been approved. Hardship cases have been given more price increase and we are also working on a formula that those who make some major investments should get some incentives by way of price increase.  Our intentions are good but we must respect each other, he remarked.

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