off record
Shaukat Ali Jawaid

At the Second Pakistan
Pharma Summit 2016


Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturer’s Association (PPMA) known as a dead horse of the pharmaceutical industry gave the proof of its existence by organizing a successful Second Pakistan Pharma Summit on May 3rd 2016. It was preceded by a pre-conference workshop on How Marketing Creates Value in Pharma conducted by Prof. Marcel Corstijens. PPMA, it may be mentioned here, comprises of some intelligent industrialists with a Vision and foresight, some businessmen and some “shop keepers” in the field of pharmaceuticals and it lacks unity, cohesion and common sense of direction.

Second Summit was organized after a gap of almost five years and it did provide a common platform for the drug manufacturers as well as drug regulators and government officials to sit together, listen to each other’s point of view and make an attempt if some common grounds could be found to solve the problems being faced by the pharmaceutical industry.’ It once again proved that Mr. Khalid Mahmood Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Pakistani Pharmaceutical Giant Getz Pharma is the most competent, intelligent,  reliable opening batsman of the pharmaceutical industry who can play a long innings on any wicket under any circumstances and he lived up to this reputation.

His presentation “How Pakistan Pharma Industry can join the Ranks of More Developed Regional Countries” supplemented with lot of facts and figures were a real treat. Keeping his promise of being honest, candid, and civil but factual, he did not go for singles or double but went for the boundaries or Sixes with every slide he depicted. He first gave details of the World Pharma Market and the share of USA, Europe, Japan and rest of the world including China, India, Pakistan and other emerging markets followed by the market size of different countries in the Region. The major players in this region include China with US$ 115 Billion followed by South Korea US$13 Billion, India US$ 12 Billion, Australia US$ 11 Billion while Pakistan, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand all have Pharma Market of US$ 3 Billion each. When he presented the comparative figures of Pakistan with other regional countries for per person spending on drugs or spending on Health as total percentage of the GDP it was very embarrassing for the Government and Minister of State for Health Regulation and Coordination Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar who was the chief guest on this occasion. Pakistan spends 0.9% of its GDP on Health as compared to over 2.3% by Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Egypt, 4.2% by Turkey and 5.2% by Jordan. Similarly Pakistan’s Drugs Export of US$ 199 Million was also nowhere near India US$ 11,663 Million, Turkey US$ 807 Million and Jordan US$ 658 Million. The poor allocations for Health, Mr. Khalid Mahmood opined has also contributed to increased infant mortality and Still Births which were again the highest in the region, even Bangladesh has much better health indicators, he remarked.

Mr. Khalid Mahmood did not spare the DRAP either saying that it has No Mission, No Vision and No KPIs. Lack of inconsistent or no policy at all, price freeze, he felt, had created too many problems for the industry, it cannot expect reasonable returns on investment, hence has no funds for further investment, expansion and modernization. Having made the diagnosis, he had some useful suggestions and recommendations not only for the Government and DRAP but also for his colleagues in the pharmaceutical industry. He was also critical of India & Pakistan spending billions of rupees on Missile technology and nuclear programmes but depriving their people of social services, education and healthcare. Continuity of leadership, policies, democratic set-up and security with improvement in law and order situation, he felt were essential for progress and economic development, only then we can attract investment. However, in a country where the Army takes over government toppling elected Government after every few years on regular basis, will remain under-developed, and cannot be expected to make any headway.

One may not agree with each and everything which Mr. Khalid Mahmood had stated as he being a businessman and industrialist may have his own viewpoint on various issues, but whatever he said was based on facts and deserves to be given a serious thought by all the stake holders. He had an indirect message for the disgruntled power hungry politicians who are working overtime to create political instability and thus retard the growth and economic development. These disgruntled politicians may not be the enemies of Pakistan but they are certainly playing in the hands of our enemies who do not want the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to be successful.

Response from the Minister of State Mrs. Saira Afzal Tarar was also spirited and she brilliantly presented the government perspective. She was of the view that the poor Health Indicators in Pakistan was not only the responsibility of the Government alone but the society as a whole. Furthermore while talking about these things; one must also take into account the country environment and numerous other factors which play a vital role.  Dr. Aslam Afghani CO DRAP responded by giving details of the measures taken by DRAP to solve the problems related to Drug Registration and pricing. He felt that their prime objective was to make available safe, effective quality drugs at affordable price. Our intentions, he opined were good and let us respect each other.

Panel Discussions on Ease of Doing Business in Pakistan for Pharma Industry, Regulatory Challenges in Pakistan and strategy for boosting Drugs Exports were quite interesting and informative. Mr. Tarek M. Khan Managing Director and CEO of OBS Pakistan speaking about Leadership and Culture for Operational Excellence shared the success story of OBS. Starting with Organon and now even after having acquired MSD, Schering Plough, AGP, Johnson & Johnson, his appetite for acquiring more companies in the days to come was not yet over and he promised the audience to give them some “Good News” soon. He advised the family run businesses to go for professionalism, otherwise history tells us that they are destroyed by the third generation.

Mr. Jawed Akhai Chairman of Martin Dow also showed some of his hidden qualities and shared with the audience how they were successful to acquire the Roche plant and have now even acquired a drug manufacturing facility in France which will be commissioned soon after completing certain formalities. DRAP, he felt was hopeless. He rightly laid emphasis on Dreams, Decisions, Discipline and Time Management.

Mr. Hanif Ajari Director Supply Chain in Getz Pharma retained the title of being the most entertaining presenter at Pakistan Pharma Summit. With excellent command on communication skills, having mastered the art of story-telling, his control over volume of his voice with a typical Memon touch, he narrated  in detail the problems Pharma industry has to face while dealing with government officials  who are in no mood to work on Saturday and leave for Juma Prayers at 11.00  O Clock. Money he stated was the common religion everywhere. Delayed delivery has its own problems and repercussions but DRAP, Mr. Hanif Ajari remarked remains pregnant and refuses to deliver even after so many years. For a company operating in over two dozen countries how difficult it is to maintain supply chain under the present circumstances were also highlighted in detail. He kept the audience fully involved throughout his presentation and amused them thoroughly.  Prime Minister’s Special Assistant Dr. Mussdaq Malik speaking at the Dinner reception urged the Pharma Industry to help develop Clinical Research Organizations, go for innovations and opt for new marketing strategies keeping up professional ethics.

It proved to be an excellent effort for which Mr. Haroon Qasim who initiated this idea, Dr. Kaiser Waheed Chairman of the Organizing Committee, Chairman PPMA Mr. Hamid Raza and other members of the team deserve to be commended. Such get together provide a unique opportunity to all the stake holders to share their views thus helping to come closer.  After listening to speakers from the Pharma industry and the DRAP, Government officials, one gets the impression that there is lot of goodwill on both sides and they understand each other’s problems but somehow they cannot click with the result that the execution of policies is very poor. Perhaps it is because of the “parasites” in DRAP and other government institutions which have become quite fat over the years and unless the authorities are able to get rid of them and induct fresh blood, competent, intelligent, well trained, experienced professionals, things will never move in the right direction. Pharma industry too needs to set its house in order. When they talk on public platform, they talk something but when they happen to meet the government officials individually, they are more interested in getting their own problems resolved rather than presenting and advocating the cause of the Pakistan Pharma industry as a whole. Even when they enter the ”Price War” they forget all professional ethics, marketing principles and do not hesitate to dig their own grave  and the Pharma industry as well in the long run. Little do they realize that such an approach is detrimental to the interest of the pharmaceutical industry in the long run.

Though the PPMA and the industry in general desire the DRAP and Government agencies to stick to Time-Line, they had no regard for the Time Management during the Summit. There was not much time given for discussion and some of the speakers had to be reminded time and again to conclude their presentations. A few important players in the industry who were quite active in the First Pakistan Pharma Summit were not visible this time. The mess created at the presentation of mementoes to speakers could also have been easily avoided with proper management and organization.  At time it was embarrassing for those who were being presented these mementoes and for those who were requested to present them, hence eventually it was decided to go through the photo formality with just one shield. Mr. Zahid Saeed as well as the event management had to request those busy in conversation in the back either to sit down or leave the hall and have discussions outside in the exhibition area. One certainly expects a better discipline from the elite of the Pharma industry. Moreover, in any conference or workshop one does come across some characters who need coaching, need to be taught basic etiquettes, professional ethics and how to ask questions, Second Pakistan Pharma Summit 2016 was no exception.

On the whole all the presentations and panel discussions including pre-conference workshop had lot of pearls of wisdom and lessons to be learnt by those who are keen to learn. In order to highlight all this and for the benefit of those who could not attend the Summit due to any reasons, we will be publishing a Special Pictorial Supplement in the forthcoming issue of June1st 2016. It will cover detailed proceedings of all the presentations, panel discussions as well as Pre-Conference Workshop. Watch out for the next issue.

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