LAHORE - Acute shortage of gas and electricity has put the pharmaceutical industry in trouble, which is finding it difficult to meet its production demand particularly of life saving drugs. The manufacturers of intravenous (IV) bags need 24-hour continuity of gas and electricity but due to loadshedding of both, it is very hard to assure the supply of these and other life saving drugs. Hamid Raza, the chief of Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association during a press conference here on Wednesday demanded the pharmaceutical industry should be on top of the list of industries exempted from electricity as well as gas loadshedding. "We hope that government will do the needful in order to avoid the shortage of life saving drugs," he asserted He informed that media that the Provincial Quality Control Board (PQCB) was constituted under Drug Act 1976 and is chaired by Secretary Health. "A nominee of PPMA has been representing the association in the Board since 1990 but the department discontinued its practice of inviting PPMA observer in PQCB meetings. The observer has no voting rights and has not power to help the Board in making decisions. He said that PPMA has written several letters and also visited the office of Secretary Health to revive the observer-ship of PPMA. "We again request Secretary Health, Punjab to kindly restore the previous policy and issue orders to the concerned officials to invite PPMA representatives as observers," he added. He said: "Health Department used to purchase medicines directly from manufacturers via Central Rate Contract and the medicines were collected at Medical Store Depot. The drugs were distributed to districts only after positive report of the medicines by DTL. After devolution plan, not only the Rate Contracts were awarded by the district govts but the purchase is also being still carried out at DHQ Hospital level which had created a lot of anomalies and payment problems for the manufacturers." He observed: "There are several complaints from pharma manufacturers that they are facing a lot of difficulties in clearance of the raw materials from AFU. PPMA has been seeking appointments from Collector of Customs, Lahore but has not been successful so far. The Customs officials are disputing HS Codes as well as ITP value of raw materials and are asking for unnecessary documents like assurity letter from banks. We urge Customs authorities to solve the problems of pharma industry in order to ensure the availability of life saving drugs without interruption."