PPMA demands annual review of drug prices under some mechanism

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Jawed Akhai elected new Chairman of PPMA
PPMA demands annual review of
drug prices under some mechanism
Locally produced APIs should be given
protection and authorities should provide
level playing field to Pharma industry
to compete with India

KARACHI: The newly elected Chairman of Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufactures Association (PPMA) Mohammad Jawed Akhai has called upon the government to review drug prices annually under some mechanism and it should be linked to inflation. He has also suggested that locally produced Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) should be given some protection so that the Pharma industry can compete with India. While India gives protection to APIs, in Pakistan there are duties and taxes. He was addressing a press conference to highlight the problems faced by the pharmaceutical industry along with Dr. Sheikh Kaiser Waheed another former Chairman of PPMA recently. Mr. Riazul Hassan Executive Director of PPMA was also present on this occasion.

Mr.Jawed Akhai Chairman PPMA along with Dr. Kaiser Waheed and Mr. Riazul Hassan Executive Director PPMA addressing a press conference at Karachi recently.

After the 18th amendment and devolution of health to provinces, there was total chaos but now DRA has been established but this ordinance has not yet been made an act by the parliament. Poor functioning of DRA, Mr. Jawed Akhai stated, was affecting the growth and development of Pharma industry because many issues like pricing policy, vitamin policy, import policy, approval of new manufacturing plants, contract manufacturing etc., were pending. He suggested a time limit for disposal of cases referred to the DRA to ensure its efficient functioning. PPMA demands across the board price increase which should be linked with inflation so that we can plan our business schedule. The government has enforced strict price control on drugs in the name of affordability without realizing that drugs form just 10% of overall cost of treatment while the rest 90% which includes hospitalization cost, charges for labs and doctors fees were not controlled et all. Introduction of some health insurance scheme, Dr. Kaiser Waheed opined, will help many people to get healthcare which needs to be looked into. In many countries where health insurance scheme has been introduced, it has increased consumption of drugs and utilization of healthcare facilities, he remarked.
Mr. Jawed Akhai also pointed out that out of the top fifty pharmaceutical molecules, 70% were much cheaper in Pakistan as compared to India while only 30% were more costly. Government gives subsidies on various food items and essential services to maintain prices. We do not ask for any subsidy but request for withdrawing duties and taxes in various forms which will help reduce the drug prices. There are many indirect taxes which increase the cost of production hence the consumer Dr. Kaiser Waheed Sheikh opined, has to pay more. Supporting price increase, he further stated, will also provide more job opportunities. There are many impediments in drug exports which needs to be removed so that we can boost our drugs exports which now stands at over two hundred million US$ annually.
The government has granted the Most Favoured Nation status to India which will be effective from January 2013 as regards trade between the two countries. Hence, it is important that the Pharma industry is provided level playing fields. Once it is ensured, we are quite capable of competing with India, he remarked. He also referred to the Ephedrine case being investigated by ANF and opined that they should limit their investigations to the main culprits and do not un-necessarily harass the drug manufacturers’ as it will affect the continuous provision of many drugs wherein ephedrine is used. Currently only four firms were producing anti-TB drugs because of cost constraints. If price increase is allowed, many more will be interested. Many drugs are not available or remain in short supply simply because it is not economical to produce these orphan drugs Dr. Kaiser Waheed stated. They suggested to the government that let it control the price of essential life saving drugs but decontrol the other drugs and let the market forces determine the price. This will ensure competition and not only the prices will remain under check but the industry will also benefit by adjusting their cost of production losing on some and gaining on others. Pharma industry in Pakistan Dr.Kaiser Waheed remarked was the most over regulated sector and it does not help any one, neither the industry nor the consumer. They hoped that DRA will become active once the Ordinance has been enacted into an act of parliament and it will ensure resolution of their out standing problems pending since long.