KARACHI - The manufacturing cost of a new drug is from 1.2 to 1.8 billion dollars, and its manufacturing takes around 8-12 years following several processes, said University of Karachi (KU) ICCBS Director Professor Dr Muhammad Iqbal Choudhary here on Saturday.

He was presenting his research paper at a three-day Fifth International Council for Life Sciences KIBGE Conference on ‘Responsible Conduct of Science: Ethical Concerns in Medical and Pharmaceutical Practice and Research’ held here at Dr A Q Khan Institute of Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (KIBGE).

He said pharmaceutical companies spent around 30 percent budget on advertisement, while merely around 13 percent on research and development. “It’s all about profit and these firms neglect poor man diseases which are not very common because manufacturing drugs for the poor are not that much profitable for them,” he said, and added, “In the same context, tropical diseases, from which 1 billion poor people are affected, also remain untreated.”

He told the gathering that drug manufacturing had become a big business which gave highest return on investments. “Only financial tycoons are able to start drug business. The role of academic scientists and academia is gradually diminishing, especially in developing regions,” he disclosed.

He further said that researches conducted by academic scientists were being used by the pharmaceutical industry to make drugs. The session was chaired by renowned microbiologist and Vice Chancellor Dadabhoy Institute Professor Dr Shahana Urooj Kazmi. He lamented that the discovery of anti-infection drugs and manufacturing was receiving lesser attention and funding in global healthcare R & D.

“Many pharmaceutical firms have either closed down or downsized their anti-infection drug discovery programmes,” Choudhry said, and added, “Multidrug resistance is a challenging problem for the healthcare sector.”

He pointed out that the pharmaceutical industry could not be relied anymore for the provision of drugs in future, and that academia should play its role. “Academia should develop a new drug discovery paradigm and mechanism based on human needs not business,” he asserted.

Nida Wahid Bashir, while presenting her research paper, said that medical error was responsible for significant morbidity and mortality related to healthcare.

“In Pakistan, there is a dire need to increase awareness about its existence and tools for identification and prevention in the individuals in general and healthcare professional in particular,” she stressed.