Kashif Mustafa Qadri
There is a need to give a much required boost to our exports to strike a reasonable balance of trade. The Drug Regulatory Authority (DRAP) can help a lot simply by making the laws more rational and flexible for drug manufacturers. It is unfortunate that despite immense potential, our pharmaceutical industry is still behind India and Bangladesh in exports. The reasons obviously are poor drug regulations, uncompromising attitude of DRAP and Pakistan’s inability to secure quality certification from international agencies. Pakistani drug manufacturers are not allowed Third Party Contracts — a facility which gives India and Bangladesh a clear edge over Pakistan. It is high time that the current legislation which restricts contract manufacturing of medicines for export be revised. The government should allow Contract Manufacturing to help local manufacturers reach efficient scales and become more competitive.
With Third Party Contract manufacturing, Pakistan can achieve more industrialization since a large number of companies will then offer to produce drugs on behalf of the established brands. This will also open more employment opportunities. Third Party manufacturing would bring in foreign investment as the international drug manufacturers would prefer to outsource medicine production to Pakistani firms in order to offset their own high production costs. There is an urgent need for reforms in existing regulatory framework to unlock the potential of ‘scale’ within local pharmaceutical manufacturing sector to produce essential drugs locally and also to give our manufacturers access to global markets.