LAHORE - The Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association (PPMA) has demanded the government to establish one-window operation at the federal level and in provincial capitals to ease up all bureaucratic procedures and hurdles in the way of medicines’ firms willing to do exports.

This consensus demand was made by speakers at a seminar on the issue of exports by pharmaceutical industry of the country held here on Thursday. The seminar was organised by the PPMA with the backdrop that annual exports of Pakistani pharmaceutical companies had dropped to alarming level of $200 million. While the industry has now aimed to increase its exports to $5 billion in next five years despite stiff competition from medicine manufacturers’ of the neighbouring countries as for such a national cause it seeks special incentives and measures from the government.

The speakers also demanded establishing a Pakistan-level Pharma Export Council for boosting exports of medicines from the country in order to compete with drug manufacturers of the regional countries. PPMA Central Chairman Dr Kaiser Waheed said it was high time that the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) should completely waive or significantly decrease fee for all sorts of documentation and procedures required for exports of medicines from the country.

He said the proposed one-window operations required for exports of drugs should grant all necessary permissions and get issued no-objection certificates from relevant state agencies in least possible time preferably in a single day.

The proposed one-window operation should oversee and look after all exports related operations of the pharmaceutical industry.

He urged the Commerce Ministry to revive the system in practice during past regimes where federal governments had been used to bear the expenses up to 50 percent for hiring staff in the form of medical representatives and opening up of offices by pharmaceutical firms abroad in order to enhance exports of medicines from the country.

The PPMA chairman demanded that autonomy should be granted to maximum possible extent to the chairman Registration Board of Drap so that he could speed up process of registration of medicines being manufactured in the country in order to facilitate their exports.

Other speakers of the seminar said that billions of rupees had been lying unused in Central Research Fund maintained by Health ministry as Pharma companies had been contributing one percent of their profits towards this fund since 1976 for doing research for development of new medicines.