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Sum Up – We come to the concluding part of this topic. In the last six posts, we have seen the Pharma industry situation, progress, and challenges inside and outside. We now sum up the rather long discussion into key take-aways.
- Regulatory Landscape – has changed drastically during the last decade. There are many more additional parameters, standards, and documents which must be implemented. Compliance was always mandatory but now it is watched more strictly. This is not an initiative from DRAP; these are international requirements and Pakistan cannot isolate itself. Risk-based assessments are the latest on the list, an area which was never in focus before. All of it is good in two ways. One, it increases the industry standard of working thereby adding to product quality; two, it will enable Pakistan Pharma to compete better at the international level. Regulatory procedures therefore must be diligently implemented.
- Economic Landscape – Pharma market in Pakistan had been growing at more than 10% every year for many years. Quarter 2 (April – June) of 2020 has seen the market shrinking a little. This unusual phenomenon is obviously due to COVID19. True that COVID19 proved a boon for many drugs which sold in unprecedented quantities. The trend moved with news. It was hydroxychloroquine first, then ivermectin, then dexamethasone, then tocilizumab, and then Remdesivir. Everyone in the supply chain fleeced the public and made millions. Other than such exploitation however, the world population has plunged into more poverty. Latest estimates say that 115 million more people shall be pushed below extreme poverty line (less than 1.90 US$ per day); how much less can be seen from this example. At current exchange rate, 1.90 US$ is equal to 311 rupees a day or 9,330 rupees a month. We know quite well that our extreme poverty line is much below this figure; even 100 rupees a day is a luxury many people do not have. If we do not count the black money which is abundant in Pakistan and which is available with small number of people, the major part of population has become poor, partly due to COVID19 and partly due to present government policies. Pharma companies should be well advised to review their ambitious growth plans and consider that more investment does not always bring more results.
- Political Landscape – we are quite familiar with political turbulence of various kinds, shapes and sizes. It is always based on vested interests; never on any ideology. In fact, now the proponents of turbulence do not even bother to guise their personal greed for power. They show clearly what they are fighting for. Since the federal government somehow appears clueless most of the time, the ground for creating various kinds of turbulences has become fertile. Presently, it is the political parties which protest off and on for their own agenda. The common man, the so-called ‘Awam’ is getting crushed with too many burdens. If a credible leadership emerges at this time, the situation is ripe for a major turbulence. Fortunately for the present government, there is no such credible leader anywhere in sight, at home or even abroad. The government is insisting on following suicide trail. It is ironic that we make big statements about world affairs but cannot see our own situation. This is another classical disconnect from reality from which the executive is suffering. From Pharma Industry point of view, this situation is not favorable for sustaining business growth. Close watch of such developments is highly advisable.
- Technological Landscape – speed of technological advancement has increased many times due to two reasons; one during COVID19, people had more time at hand and home which they utilized for affecting various breakthroughs; two, COVID19 put pressure on creators-to-be to come up with new, faster solutions. The pace of technology has impacted new drug development also considerably. People are moving toward targeted and biological therapies. In time, the conventional drugs that we use today may become irrelevant. As of today, none of the Local Pharma is thinking about this. It is a good time to think about future.
- Industry Landscape – Pharma industry is in the worst kind of competition at present. It is a no-holds-barred kind where any and everything is fair. The overall scenario is neither beneficial nor viable for future. The industry is living in the now and present only. It does not appear to be thinking of even near future. Anyone who wins today is the winner, no matter what the cost may be. It is critical that the industry leaders, not the industry politicians, sit together and plan for the long-term survival, health and prosperity of all stakeholders.
Pharma Industry, and other industries as well, are passing through uncharted waters. The dangers are unknown and so may be the opportunities. A very high level of vigilance and diligence is required to emerge alive, safe and healthy.