61 percent of pharma brands in Pakistan are cheaper than India


Karachi: Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) has told that 61 percent of top 28 selling brands are cheaper in Pakistan as compared to India and even Bangladesh. Prices constraints have eroded profitability and discouraged investment in capacity, while pharma companies have seen low declining profitability leading to lack of investment in FDA certified plants.

Government should focus on four major initiatives to develop pharmaceutical sector. Pricing should be reformed and rationalized to support public health and industry performance, and incentives be offered to invest in FDA-quality plants to gain access to largest export markets. Contract manufacturing should be allowed without limitation and government should set high and uniform quality bar, and enforce it.

This was urged by Chairman PPMA Saeed Allahwala and others while addressing a press conference held on Wednesday here in a local hotel. PPMA other officials including were also present on this occasion.

Chairman PPMA Saeed Allahwala said that there is misconception about pharma industry that it is earning huge profits and is a lavish industry which is not true at all. “Some people claim that drugs in Pakistan are costly as compared to India but in fact, 61 percent of 28 top selling pharmaceutical brands are cheaper here than India and even Bangladesh. Only 39 percent of these top selling brands are a bit costly than India which is not a big issue, he added.

During the press conference, he showed comparative slides through multimedia presentation of all these 28 top selling brands with their prices in Pakistani rupees to support his arguments. Pharma industry is in dire need of raising medicines prices to be saved from more losses. After the seizing of medicines prices in 2001, the cost of production & utility services, transport and other expenses has now risen by 300 percent but ironically the government has done nothing to address this grave situation. Since 2001 to 2013, cost of general items is increased by 467 percent, fuel and lighting 53, transportation and communication 90, non-food items 63, groceries like aata (flour) 338, sugar 155, petrol 230, fresh milk 538 and chicken price is increased by 316 percent. Now, owing to this situation, how can this industry survive without price rationalization,? he asked.

Referring to Pakistan Business Development Plan and National Trade Corridor Sector Strategy report launched by Planning Commission of Pakistan, he told that pharma companies have seen low declining profitability leading to lack of investment in FDA certified plants.

There are 90 FDA certified plants in India while Italy has 40, China 22, Taiwan 10, Bangladesh 4, Jordan has 3 such plants but unfortunately Pakistan has not a single plant which is certified by FDA. Since 2006 to 2008, profitability percentage of Glaxo Smith Kline is decreased from 22 to 14, Abbott Laboratories Pakistan 23 to 6, Wyeth Pakistan Limited 20 to 10 which depicts the actual picture of business environment. There is a global ratio of pharmaceutical profitability of less than 30 percent which can only be dreamed by us, he lamented.

Due to pricing issues, availability of essential drugs in Pakistan is becoming a grave issue. Percentage of availability of essential drugs is 65 in public and 95 in private sector in Tunisia, 50 percent in public and 90 percent in private in Sudan, 28 percent in public and 80 percent in private in Jordan, 18 percent in public and 5 percent in private sector in Kuwait, 8 percent in public and 73 percent in private in Yemen while this is just 4 percent in public and 25 percent in private sector of Pakistan which is very shameful, he shared.

He said that about 100 pharmaceutical factories had been closed during 15 years and it was feared that more would face closure.  “Five lacs people are directly linked to this industry. The delay in the price raise will cause further shortage of medicines in the market and ultimately sale of substandard and smuggled medicines will get a boost, which will endanger the health of millions of patients in the country.”

In the estimation of Policy Board, Drug Control Authority, it was stated that there should be raise of 97 percent in the medicines of pharmaceutical industry. The 15 interim raise was approved by the government in 2013, which too was withdrawn. In Drug Pricing Policy, the government had mentioned to seize the prices of medicines by November 2013.

PPMA asked Prime Minister, Finance Minister and Health Ministers to play their due role in ending crippling crisis hitting pharmaceutical industry hard and save it from heavy losses.

February 4, 2015

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