Have a deeper look in drug policy
AFTER holding threadbare discussions on the existing drug policy, Ministry of Health Services and the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers have agreed in principle to revisit the Essential Drug Availability and Pricing Policy to meet the objectives of availability of efficacious, affordable and quality drugs.
The consensus on the pricing issue is a positive development and indeed will go a long way in multiplying growth of the very important sector of the economy. In our view the issues faced by the very vibrant and forward looking Pharma industry needs to be looked into wider perspective. Apart from the pricing, the pharmaceutical industry is also faced with many other issues particularly that of spurious and fake drugs. There are people who have set up facilities within the premises of their residences to produce counterfeit drugs which pose threat not only to the human health but also to the name of the industry which has invested substantially to upgrade itself in the last few years. Today, the majority companies are following good manufacturing practices in accordance with the domestic as well as international guidance. Though the government is seen raiding periodically, the places and areas producing the fake drugs, yet the problem exists in large scale. According to the Pakistani Pharmacist Association, there are approximately four thousand pharmacies in the country but also as many as one hundred thousand other illegal merchants selling medications. The situation warrants a holistic and comprehensive campaign in order to root out the mafia involved in the illegal and immoral practices of producing and selling spurious drugs and playing with the lives of the people. All the field offices of DRAP in different Provinces as well as other law enforcement agencies should be strengthened and geared up to keep a strict vigil on such kind of criminal business. The pharmaceutical sector has emerged as one of the largest contributors to the national economy but its huge potential for growth is still untapped. According to industry experts, it could easily cross $10 billion with increased exports, which currently stand around $20 million. Therefore, we will urge the government to fully support the industry and provide all necessary incentives to it in order to realize its true potential.