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The emergence, evolution and growth of Pharmaceutical Industry in Pakistan is a worth studying subject. In this series, we shall look at some aspects of this industry.

Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) is the representative body of the Pharmaceutical Industry in Pakistan. It was established in January 1961 and shall complete 58 years next month. PPMA currently comprises of Local Pharma only; the MNCs have their own body, Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce.

In July 2017, PPMA published a report on the Pharmaceutical Industry of Pakistan 1, 2

It is a landmark report which was prepared in collaboration with Policy Research Institute of Market Economy (PRIME) and was unveiled by the then Chairman, Dr. Kaiser Waheed Sheikh. It was a commendable job done after a long wait.

It is a very well written, fairly balanced report which tends to, by and large, present the facts as these are. However, while it is a good compilation of data, it is not highly analytical in nature.

In these blogs, I shall quote rather extensively from PPMA report as it gives the most authentic information about basics. PPMA has its own angle of presenting things and it is not mandatory to agree with that angle. I shall also add my own observations spread over last 43 years.


At the time of independence, it is stated that there was no pharmaceutical manufacturing unit in Pakistan. The first MNC came to Pakistan in 1951 and by 1954, nine MNCs had arrived1. Major expansion occurred in 1960s when more MNCs established manufacturing facilities here and Pakistani entrepreneurs also started putting up Local Pharma units. Most of the well-known companies of past (and some of present) started business in 1960s. Karachi led the way, being commercial hub and port city. Lahore also boasted the presence of some Local Pharma such as CCL, PDH, Remington and others. All MNCs, except three, put up manufacturing units in Karachi. Three exceptions were, Wyeth in Lahore, May & Baker (later Rhone Poulenc Rorer – RPR; later Sanofi) in Rawalpindi and Upjohn (later Pharmacia; later Pfizer) in Islamabad.

At its peak, there were forty MNCs in Pakistan. After 1990s, this number has steadily declined and currently seventeen are operating. It is estimated that this number will go down further. 1, 2

Local Pharma on the other hand, have kept growing steadily and the number currently is around 700. The table below is a summary. 1, 2

Province/ Area 1999 2017



IMS Est.

Punjab 160 370 440
Sindh 101 163 183
KP 32 98 114
Baluchistan 2 13 15
AJK 9 6 7
Total 304 650 759

Some observations are interesting.

  • Drug Regulatory Authority Pakistan (DRAP) is the official keeper and regulator of Pharma Industry. Its figure must be final and authentic. It is surprising to see a large difference between DRAP and IMS figures. It may be due to the reason that DRAP registers all Pharmaceutical Manufacturing companies, but it does not yet recognize Pharma Marketing companies. IMS (now IQVIA) reports some marketing companies as well
  • Contrary to general perception, Punjab has double the number of Pharmaceutical companies as compared to Sindh. KP has also come up, but Punjab leads by a wide margin. It would be educative to explore the reasons for this phenomenon.
  • For many years, Pakistan Pharma market has seen double-digit growth. The above expansion may both be a reason and consequence of this growth.
  • Growth drivers of Pharma market have been debated in the PPMA industry report in some detail2. There is no final conclusion, but the following may be accepted in general.
    • Increased population
    • Increased access to healthcare
    • Increasing number of doctors/consultants who opted to leave major towns and established practices in smaller towns. Most of them were highly successful. Patients got near-to-home access to medical treatment while the doctors got good number of patients; a win-win situation.
    • Increased affluence and availability of more expendable income
    • Increased awareness about healthcare, mothers-care, child-care, and elderly-care
    • Increased disease-burden due to multiple factors
    • Over-prescription of drugs
    • Increased self-medication

To be continued……




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