PPMA needs a fully aligned high performance team to achieve its objectives


 PPMA needs a fully aligned high
performance team to achieve its objectives

Controversy over appointment of the new
Secretary General will prove to be counter productive

KARACHI: Until 1960s, Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associaton (PPMA) was a very well knit united body representing the pharmaceutical trade and industry. Mr. S.M. Abbas was the Secretary General who served for a very long time and did exceptionally well to look after the interest of the Pharmaceutical industry. In early 70s with the start of the Generics era, the situation changed dramatically. First a few MNCs packed up and stopped their operations in Pakistan only to come back and resume their business later when the Generics scheme was withdrawn. In the meantime the industry got split into two groups one consisting of the multinationals who formed their own body under the name of Pharma Bureau while the national pharmaceutical industry continued to be represented by the PPMA.

Since mid 1970s, the PPMA has remained a house divided against itself. Sometime the leadership tried its best to resolve the internal differences among the different groups and was successful to plead the cause of the Pharma industry but at other times it just functioned as a Post Office as liaison between the industry and the Federal Government.

Now once again there is news about the power struggle between PPMA members from Rawalpindi and the elected representatives of the PPMA over the appointment of the PPMA Secretary General, a paid position decided upon by the PPMA Central Executive Committee.  This post was advertised in the national press, candidates were shortlisted and then appointment made. This decision, it is learnt, is not being accepted by members from Rawalpindi who are alleged to have revolted against this appointment because the new candidate does not meet with their wishes of fulfilling private agendas. The former PPMA secretary-general, it is said, used to spend more time looking after personal agendas of some PPMA members in Rawalpindi, used to be absent from work on a regular basis and was  not attending to the duties of his office.

 It may be mentioned here that at present the state of affairs in Pakistan’s pharmaceutical sector is quite pathetic. The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), responsible for monitoring the quality of medicines in the country, is not recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and resultantly Pakistani companies are unable to export to developed countries. Amongst a host of other things, the PPMA has a vital role to play in advising and assisting the National Health Services (NHS) Minister Saira Afzal Tarar to set up a credible drug testing laboratory which is mandatory for recognition by the WHO. In such an operating environment best described by the acronym VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous,) PPMA’s survival hinges on getting its act together with members aligning themselves in pursuit of the greater national interest. 

It was after a long time that under the effective leadership of Mr. Saeed Allawala and his colleagues, the PPMA has once again emerged as an effective body having fruitful discussions and dialogue with the federal government.  The drug regulators have also acknowledged this  and Secretary in the Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) Mr.Ayub Sheikh along with Mr. S.M.Munir from Trade Development Authority of Pakistan attended a meeting organized by PPMA at Karachi and promised to solve most of their problems including providing incentives to increase drugs export. More meetings to discuss issues related to Drug Registration etc, are planned soon after Eid and all this will go a long way in solving the problems faced by the pharmaceutical trade and industry thus ensuring its smooth progress and development in the days to come. The greater national interest demands that the wealth producers of Pakistan produce more wealth, especially of the kind that generates foreign exchange, and strengthen Pakistan’s balance of payments position, and earn for our nation greatly needed stability, respect and dignity in the international community of nations. 

To achieve this the first and foremost requirement is for PPMA members to bury their petty differences born out of conflicting private agendas that are impeding the pursuit and realization of the collective good. Sanity must prevail among all members of PPMA for greater gains as today they are in best relationship with the regulators. And they should remember luck does not knock the door everyday.  

The Secretary General of PPMA has to look after the interest of the pharmaceutical industry as a whole and not fulfill the personal demands and wishes of certain individuals. However, if the PPMA members continued to fight among themselves on petty issues, even an angel won’t be able to serve in this position and PPMA will not be able to work as an effective body.