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Pakistan’s pharma crisis may push deeper, urgently need to follow world’s rule

Interview with Mr Abdul Haseeb Khan – President, Brookes Pharma

PAGE had an exclusive conversation with Mr Abdul Haseeb Khan regarding the recent development in the pharma sector. Excerpts of the conversation are as follows:

Pakistan makes its own laws about pharma and does not follow the rules of the world. Pharma is not like the business of leather or garments. It is medicine. In the entire world, there are same standards for pharma. There are not specific separate standards of pharma for Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, India etc. Pharma is the only thing in the world for which there are same standards all over the world.

Pakistan cannot get success in Pharma if Pakistan forms its own laws for pharma. This is the biggest drawback. The recent protest in Lahore by pharma-related individuals of Punjab was against the black law. It has been observed that there is same law for those who manufacture fake medicine and the genuine pharma manufacturers. Currently, there is no difference between those who manufacture fake medicine at their home and those who are licence-holders. Those who manufacture fake medicine do not need to invest in huge plants and appoint professionals for higher salary. Because of the recent development, genuine pharma manufacturers and fake medicine manufacturers have been put on the same platform. This is the biggest cruelty and the biggest injustice.

People are protesting in some cities against the black law but this may engulf the entire country. There is a possibility of protests all over Pakistan against this black law. Those who manufacture fake medicine should be hanged. Nothing is being done against fake-medicine manufacturers. There is difference between sub-standard medicine and fake medicine.

We need to difference properly and with justice. Sub-standard medicine is the one whose color may change or the lid of the bottle may loosen. Sub-standard medicine is not the fake medicine. No one dies because of the consumption of the sub-standard medicine. Let me tell you that even after the expiry of medicine, the efficacy is still there. The concerned authorities should not treat sub-standard medicine and the fake medicine equally. Let me emphasize that humans do not die by consuming sub-standard medicine. It seems that the relevant authorities have no sense. If injustice prevails, I and many others may close their factories.

Pakistan should also implement the same law effective in the entire world for the sub-standard medicine and the fake medicine. It is no way justified to punish the same way for the sub-standard medicine and for the fake medicine.

It is being said that there is shortage of medicine in the market. Off course, no one would manufacture the product for which there is no profit. We manufacture medicine and this is our commercial business. We are not here for charity. For charity, we have other avenues and we do charity to help the poor.

We do distribute free medicine in huge quantity to help those who cannot afford. However, at the same time we need to separate business from charity. It is the fact that lots of medicine is not being produced because there are no gains. Let me tell you that there is no new investment in pharma due to unending problems and almost no profit.

Currently, there are 22 multinational pharma companies in Pakistan as compared to 28 some time back. Three more MNCs may leave Pakistan soon. MNCs are leaving Pakistan. As far as the quality and standards of our pharma products are concerned, we export medicine which is the indication that our medicine is of the world-standards.

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