Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) here on Monday demanded establishment of a national level Pharma Export Council to achieve its target of increasing exports of the industry to US$ five billion in next five years.

Speaking at a press conference, Central chairman PPMA Hamid Raza said that ill-advised steps had caused serious impediments for growth of the pharma industry. Others who spoke on the occasion included central spokesman of the authority Dr Kaiser Waheed, senior Vice President Nadeem Chandna and member Central Executive Committee Zahid Saeed. They said due to hindrances, pharma industry of the country could not achieve its “Vision-2020” for increasing medicines’ exports from mere 200 million dollars to five billion dollars on annual basis.

The association’s leaders said that pharma industry had been growing at a rate of 18 per cent in 2014 but the growth decreased to 13 per cent in 2015 at US$ 160 million.

They said that government should do whatever it could within its resources and fiscal space for facilitating exports of medicines being manufactured in Pakistan for accelerating pace of economic growth of the country.

The PPMA officials said that Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), being the state’s regulator for pharma industry and related market issues, should be made autonomous on true lines. PPMA Chairman Hamid Raza said main issue hampering the growth of pharma industry was shortage of required qualified manpower persisting in DRAP since the time the authority had come into existence in 2012.

They said that billions of rupees had been lying unused in

Central Research Fund as Pharma companies had been contributing one per cent of their profits towards this fund since 1976 for doing research for development of new medicines.

The industry on alternative basis should get access to this fund purely utilizing the unused finances for its growth especially from point of view of exports-related requirements.

They demanded that section 12 of the Drugs Act 1976 should be deleted as there was no point for the government to continue with its powers to determine price of every medicine available in the market.

Instead an amendment should be incorporated in the Drugs Act 1976 where the government should only have powers to regulate prices of over 200 drugs included in WHO’s Model List of Essential Medicines. They said that owing to powers of the government to check and control price of every medicine in the market, some 30 essential life-saving drugs had been in short supply in the local pharma market. They demanded that DRAP should clear in month’s time pendency of cases of registration of new medicines being invented and developed by the local industry.

They informed that pendency of cases of registration of new medicines had increased to over 10,000 as industry people who had applied to DRAP for registration of their new products as long as six years back had yet to get registration certificates from the authority.

The PPMA leaders urged the government to withdraw undue taxes and duties being levied on equipment and machinery being imported for expansion of pharma industry of the country.

PPMA proposed setting up a task force for achieving its “Vision-2020” for growth of medicines’ exports. The task force should comprise representatives of Trade Development Authority, DRAP and PPMA.

Under the same vision, the PPMA plans to establish at least 10 FDA (US Food and Drug Administration)-accredited medicines’ manufacturing units in Pakistan whose produce could be exported anywhere in the world.