Islamabad - The drug manufacturers have threatened to block medicine supply to Punjab hospitals and shut down the manufacturing units in a couple of days if the recently enacted amendment to the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan Act (DRAP) 2012 and Drug Act 1976 is not repealed.

Addressing a press conference at National Press Club, the representatives of drug manufacturers warned that the anti-industry policies of the Punjab government would lead to the closure of local industry and ultimately shortage of drugs in the country.

Khawaja Asad, former chairman of Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturer’s Association (PPMA), said by enacting the regulatory amendment, the provincial government has given unlimited powers to the drug inspectors creating difficulties for the licensed manufacturers, distributors and chemists.

He pointed out “the amendment does not explain any mechanism for the arrest of spurious drug manufacturers and distributors but empowers the drug inspector to sentence the licensed manufacturers for 10-year imprisonment, Rs 5 million fine and non-bailable arrest warrants.”

The representatives of the industry opined that the anti-industry decision of the provincial government has empowered the drug inspectors along with police to harass the licensed manufacturers and retailers.

Former vice chairman of PPMA, Nasir Qureshi said the local pharmaceutical industry has not only been fulfilling the 90 percent medicine needs of the country but also exporting medicines to 40 other countries.

He said over 600 manufacturing units have provided jobs to 5 million people, adding but the poor internal and foreign policies of the government show that it’s been following a mysterious agenda to benefit the industry of a neighbouring country. “We have heard today that Afghanistan has banned the import of Pakistani drugs. If it is true, it is a bad news for the local industry and the government is responsible for this,” he remarked.

The drug manufacturers demanded that the licensed drugs manufactured following set standards should be regulated following the international standards of food and drug administration of USA.

A large number of drug manufactures as well as members of chemist association and Islamabad and Rawalpindi chambers of commerce also accompanied the main speakers at the press club to vent their anger against the regulatory amendment.

They held banners and placards, which criticised the government’s decision and demanded industry friendly policies.

They appealed to the prime minister and the chief minister to exempt the licensed manufacturers, retailers and chemists from the ordinance, making it applicable merely to the manufacturers and retailers involved in spurious drugs.