Dear Colleagues! This is Asrar Qureshi’s Blog Post #826 for Pharma Veterans. Pharma Veterans aims to share knowledge and wisdom from Veterans for the benefit of Community at large. Pharma Veterans Blog is published by Asrar Qureshi on WordPress, the top blog site. Please email to email@example.com for publishing your contributions here.
Government of Pakistan, in collaboration with International Trade Center, UKaid, Ministry of Commerce, Trade Development Authority Pakistan, Ministry of National Health Services Regulations and Coordination, and Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association has developed the Pharmaceutical Export Strategy, which forms an integral part of Pakistan’s Strategic Trade Policy Framework – STPF. This document was approved as the official strategy export strategy for the Pharmaceuticals Sector 2023-2027 by the Pharmaceuticals Sector Specific Council and endorsed by the Ministry of Commerce.
Following are major highlights. A critical analysis shall be the topic of another post, so may be some recommendations, which I may be able to make based on my long-term association with international business.
- Global pharmaceutical market is in a state of flux, and this presents a unique opportunity for the pharma sector in Pakistan to strategically enter the global market.
- Pakistan pharma sector has a large manufacturing base and a larger domestic market but remains a small player in the global market. This strategy aims to assist local pharma companies to tap into the global potential.
- Pakistan has the potential to attract foreign investment, provided it creates a conducive environment in terms of political stability, economic growth, accessibility to local inputs, clear developmental policies, and enforcement of copyright laws.
- The pharmaceutical sector in Pakistan is fully regulated at all stages, licensing, registration, pricing, supply chain, production, and quality testing. This may affect the competitiveness of pharma products, profitability, likelihood of export survival, and investment.
- Strengthening the pharmaceutical sector will strongly contribute to bringing further revenue to Pakistan.
The Strategic Plan of Action comprises of three Strategic Objectives.
Strategic Objective #1 – Improve the national framework for regulatory and institutional management, as well as the business environment governing the pharmaceutical sector.
- Revision of Laws and policies governing the sector
- Support a stable regulatory regime by redefining the roles of agencies in the sector.
- Improve the overall business environment by encouraging policy coherence and facilitating investment in the sector.
Strategic Objective #2 – Strengthen the export competitiveness of Pakistani pharmaceutical companies.
- Facilitate excess to and development of new products.
- Define the positioning of pharmaceutical products in the target export markets.
- Develop market intelligence and information services on target export markets.
- Build company capacities to enter domestic and international market.
Strategic Objective #3 – Domestically support the development and upscaling of the Pakistani pharmaceutical sector to be more compliant.
- Compliance with international production standards
- Attract investment to foster innovation and technological upgrading to strengthen firm capacities.
- Establish internationally accredited laboratories to maintain quality control.
- Invest in scientific, technical, and managerial training to strengthen skills and know-how, and building linkages with universities.
Implementation of Plan
The strategy has developed a pragmatic and forward-looking roadmap for up- grading and internationalization, which can be driven successfully through timely and appropriate resource allocation and effective public–private collaboration for implementation.
Coordinating activities between the public and private sectors, mobilizing resources, and providing an enabling business environment will be crucial for strategy implementation. Having a functional and efficient public–private coordination mechanism (sector advisory/development committee) is the key.
The following key areas of intervention are priorities to facilitate the strategy’s implementation:
- Allow duty-free imports of API manufacturing plants to reduce reliance on neighbouring countries such as the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of India;
- Conduct quality control audits to enforce stringent regulations for quality and ethical standards, to reduce illicit trade and counterfeit medicines, which tarnish the sector’s reputation internationally;
- Nationally, scale up well-performing firms to meet the demand for off-patent original blockbuster drugs in low- and middle-income countries, while ensuring intellectual property (IP) protection;
- Attract foreign direct investment ( FDI) into well- performing firms or domestic ‘trusted partners’ with support from the Board of Investment (BOI), and bring them into fairs and business-to-business (B2B) transactions to bring in FDI; Identify product lines and key markets in which Pakistan could have latent comparative advantage
While Pakistan has established itself progressively as a manufacturing platform for pharmaceuticals, the country remains a small player in the global scenario. The pharmaceutical sector was ranked as the 17th largest export sector for the country in 2020. Pakistan’s main exports are largely dominated by generics, and exports are concentrated in a limited number of markets. The Afghan market alone captured approximately 31% of Pakistan’s exports in 2020. The domestic industry has recently penetrated non-traditional markets such as Africa and East and Central Asia, but the value of the commodities traded remains limited. Significant untapped export potential exists in the exports of pharmaceuticals from Pakistan. This strategy’s aim is to assist local pharmaceutical companies and other sector actors to tap into the potential by strengthening the value chain and increasing the number of players at every step.
The strategy, objectives, and implementation plan have been drawn after due deliberations and are based on objective realities. Relevant stakeholders were involved in discussions and consultations. However, I find inherent flaws in some assumptions which will impede the progress and achievement.
Most notable omission is lack of timelines and milestones. The plan will be spread over five years but unless milestones are determined with relevant timeframes, the objectives are not achieved as envisaged.
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