Drug-makers warn against banning raw material import from India

Say ban can weaken country’s capability to fight Covid-19. — AFP/File
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KARACHI: Given Pakistan’s high dependence on Indian raw material for manufacturing drugs, the government must not ban its import. Otherwise, there would be a 50 per cent loss in drug production. The situation would not only cause shortage of drugs and increase in their prices, but also weaken the country’s capability to fight Covid-19.

This warning was given by representatives of the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manu­­­­­­facturers’ Association at a news conference held on Monday at the press club.

Highlighting concerns of the pharmaceutical industry, PPMA senior vice chairman Syed Farooq Bukhari said the federal cabinet should not take any decision against the import of medicine raw material from India or from any other country when there had been an unabated increase in Covid-19 patients in the country.

“At a time when the federal and provincial governments in the country have been in the process of setting up more and more quarantine centres, isolation facilities, and special hospital wards to accommodate Covid-19 cases, there is a dire need to ensure constant supply of essential medicines to treat coronavirus patients.

Say ban can weaken country’s capability to fight Covid-19

“For this, it is mandatory that the pharmaceutical industry of Pakistan should continue with its operations to its full capacity as for this we need a constant supply of raw material from our international clients,” he explained.

The import of pharmaceutical raw material from India or from any other country was done under a well-regulated regime being overseen by the Drug Reg­ulatory Authority of Pakistan and other relevant state agencies, he said.

“Any decision to disrupt the international supply chains associated with the Pakistani pharmaceutical industry would negatively affect the ability of country’s medical practitioners to treat the cases of Covid-19,” he warned.

The import of pharmaceutical raw material from India, he pointed out, was being done under a proper SRO No 429 approved both by the ministries of commerce and national health services.

In reply to a question, former central chairmen of the PPMA Dr Kaiser Waheed said 95 per cent of drugs were manufactured with the help of imported raw material in which Indian share was almost 50pc while the rest was met by China and some European countries. Very few medicines were imported in finished form from India which included vaccines.

He said the case wasn’t properly presented to the government. “All medicines are essential as they are needed to have a healthy body and mind. Vitamins are as important as any other medicine because their deficiency could lead to multiple health problems,” he added.