If raw material imports from India stopped: Drug manufacturers warn 30-35pc medicine shortages in Pakistan

KARACHI: Pakistani drug manufacturers on Monday claimed that somebody was misleading the federal cabinet about the import of medicines and its raw material from India, saying at the moment, only the necessary and vital drugs were being imported from the neighbouring state, whose shortage could result in serious consequences for the people in Pakistan.

“Pakistan is importing some finished products including Anti Rabies Vaccine (ARV), Anti Snake Sera, and some vaccines to prevent diseases like Extensively Drug-Resistant (XDR) Typhoid and another disease, which are not produced in our country. Similarly, the raw material to manufacture many essential drugs is also being imported from India. If these imports are stopped, there would be an extreme shortage of essential drugs in the country,” Zahid Saeed, former Chairman of the Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA), told a news conference at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Monday.

Accompanied by PPMA Vice-Chairman Farooq Bukhari, Capt. Iqbal Ahmed, Shaikh Qaiser Waheed and others, the PPMA leader said stopping pharmaceutical imports from India would hamper the Government of Pakistan’s efforts to contain the spread of Coronavirus in the country as most of the drugs manufactured in Pakistan are prepared with raw materials imported from India and added that if Indian imports were stopped, Pakistan’s medicines exports would also be affected.

“Somebody has misled the prime minister that vitamins are being imported from India, which are not necessary and not required in Pakistan. We want to apprise the PM through the media that folic acid is a vitamin which is essentially required by pregnant women. Similarly, vitamin B1 is essential to prevent beriberi disease. There are several other vitamins which are actually life-saving drugs and needed by hundreds of patients in Pakistan,” Zahid Saeed added.

Drug manufacturers claim that after the deterioration of ties and near a war-like situation with India, Pakistani drug manufacturers tried to import raw material from China but initially the Chinese suppliers demanded exorbitant prices of raw material and later when they agreed, lockdown in China prevented its supply to Pakistan.

“We are willing to switch to Chinese and other manufacturers for the supply of raw material of drugs but it would take at least one year as stability studies of drugs require six months to 1 year,” Zahid Saeed said adding that until then, drug manufacturers should be allowed to import finished goods and raw material from India.

To a query, the PPMA office-bearers said Pakistan lacked raw material production facilities due to which, it was dependent on India and China as well as some other countries but added that Pakistani authorities should offer incentives to national and international investors to establish raw material production facilities in Pakistan to end its dependence on neighbouring countries.

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