Pakistan cannot fight Covid-19 without medicinal imports from India: PPMA

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KARACHI: The Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association (PPMA) has warned the federal government that any decision to discontinue the import of raw material of medicines from India will weaken the country’s ability to fight coronavirus.

The warning to this effect came as the office-bearers of PPMA addressed a press conference at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Monday.

The PPMA representatives appealed the federal government that it should continue with the existing arrangements of import of drugs’ raw material. Any decision to disrupt the international supply chains associated with the Pakistani pharmaceutical industry will lessen the ability of the country’s medical practitioners to treat the cases of Covid-19, they added.

Speaking on the occasion, PPMA Senior Vice-Chairman Syed Farooq Bukhari said that 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.

“We are in a virtual state of war against Covid-19 whose cases have been on the rise in Pakistan as the pharmaceutical industry is the backbone of the national apparatus put in place to fight the menace of coronavirus,” he said.

He said that the vital inputs of the pharmaceutical industry should remain readily available to the drug manufacturers so that there was no shortage of essential medicines in the country during the current health emergency.

“From the day one of the anti-coronavirus lockdown in the country, the pharmaceutical industry has been doing its best continue with its production so that there is no shortage of medicines during the on-going health crisis,” he maintained.

The senior PPMA official said that 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.

“It is unfortunate that 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 the Covid-19 cases but along with this we also need a constant supply of essential medicines to treat the patients of coronavirus,” he said.

“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 said.

Bukhari said that the federal cabinet should realize that raw material of medicines was being imported from India under a well-regulated and highly supervised regime keeping in view the constant needs of the pharmaceutical industry.

The decision had been taken last year to allow the import of the drugs’ raw material from India due to the fact that in absence of such an arrangement there would be an acute shortage of essential medicines in the market or otherwise their prices would increase manifold. There was also the chance of emergence of a black market of medicines if the regular import of the raw material from the neighbouring country was discontinued, he said.

He said that a very few medicines in the finished form were imported from India as they fall under the category of the life-saving drugs including vaccines required in the country to treat life-threatening situations including dog and snake bites.

The import of pharmaceutical raw material from India is being done under a proper SRO no 429 approved both by ministries of Commerce and National Health Services, he said.

PPMA office-bearers appealed to the Prime Minister Imran Khan and his special assistant on National Health Services not to take any decision against the import of therapeutic goods from India or from any other country in view of the highly critical situation of Covid-19 in Pakistan.

The essential medicines are also constantly required to treat other infectious and lethal diseases in the country during this national emergency, they said.

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