After the ban on Indian imports on August 9, due to the Kashmir dispute, the Pakistani pharmaceutical industry notified the government that Pakistan could face a potential shortage of life-saving drugs, as Pakistan is dependent on Indian drugs or raw materials to cater for the demand of medicines in the market.
The Ministry of Commerce and Textile said that the trade ban on India was lifted on pharmaceutical products, regulated by the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap). The Special Assistant to the PM on Health Dr. Zafar Mirza said that the decision of Drap is for the best interest of people and will assure a maintained supply of low-cost medicine to the patients.
A Drap official said that a meeting of all stakeholders of pharma companies took place in which the members agreed that if the ban on medicines and raw materials imported from India were not lifted, it would cause a shortage of medicine in the Pakistani markets within the next few weeks. He added that the member’s grievances were conveyed to the Ministry of National Health Services and the Ministry was made aware that the prices of medicine would increase if the ban were not lifted. The members also gave another option to the government, which was to subsidize the lifesaving drugs. However, due to the tough economic conditions of Pakistan, the government could not afford to do so.
He also stated that the amount of medicines and raw material used to manufacture medicine, exported from India, is too great, and if the government reverses this decision and the ban is imposed again, then Pakistan could face a severe shortage of medicine. He further added that this could also lead to an increase in the smuggling of medicine in the market, which will affect the sector as a whole.