Sep 13 - 19, 2004





DR. MUSHTAQ NOORWALA, the Chief Executive of Specific Research Laboratories, is a member of the Pharmaceutical Industry and a well-known figure in the business circles of the country. He did his PhD in Organic Chemistry from HEJ Research Institute of Chemistry 1995-96 while he completed his early education from Saint Patrick's, a well-known educational institution of Karachi. Mushtaq Noorwala takes pride to be the batch mate of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in his school days. After completion of his education he joined his father's business and established his office in Dhaka in 1968. However, that business was lost with the debacle of the then East Pakistan. Dr. Mushtaq is an active member of all prime representative bodies of the business community including Karachi Chamber of Commerce and SITE Association of Industry and held office of different committees to serve the cause of the business community. He was elected as the Chairman of Pakistan Pharmaceutical Importers Association, Chairman of Pakistan Chemists and Druggists Association, Vice Chairman of FPCCI's standing committee on Pharmaceutical Industry.

PAGE: Since you are an active member of then pharmaceutical industry, however would you describe the pharmaceutical scenario in Pakistan?

MUSHTAQ: There are over 370 pharmaceutical both multinational and local companies are operating in Pakistan. Out of the total around 23 are foreign companies. There were times when the multinational companies were dominating the market as they retained over 80 per cent market share obviously because of their international strength and huge financial resources. However, the situation was gradually turned into favor of the domestic companies and Pakistani companies now capture 80 percent of the market share. It is almost a reverse situation in the pharmaceutical industry today.

PAGE: Despite having such a large industrial base in the pharmaceutical industry, the price of the medicine has always remained on the higher side in our country, would you like to justify?



MUSHTAQ: In a way you are right to some extent, however, it is the right occasion to dispel the distorted image about the pharmaceutical industry for charging exorbitant price of certain medicines as people generally claim that the similar products are being sold at much cheaper rate in neighboring India. Actually, the matter of the fact is that pharmaceutical industry has to rely mostly on imported raw material due to almost non-existence of the raw material producing segment in our country. While the situation in India is altogether different as major requirement of raw material is sufficiently met within the country from indigenous resources. This makes all the difference in terms of prices. Furthermore, the volume of production also matters as a price effective factor in every industry. If you compare the production volumes of the two countries there is no match of the two.

PAGE: Apart from higher prices, the quality of products is another factor as there is a general complaint regarding adulteration in medicine or piracy of the formula or fake products, which is really a serious threat to the human being. What protective measures you would suggest saving people from serious repercussions of the adulteration.

MUSHTAQ: You have rightly pointed out these social ills, which is of course a serious matter for which a draft bill-2004 for establishing "Special Courts" for the trial of adulteration cases is before the parliament for consideration. However, in my personal opinion if this bill was enacted this might open doors for corruption instead of resolving the problem. In fact, effective laws already exist to deal with this malaise, what we are lacking is the effective implementation and follow up to ensure enforcement of these laws. Laws cannot produce the desired results unless the mechanism for implementation of the laws is made effective; hence there is a need to streamline implementation process of the existing laws.

PAGE: Being a schoolmate of Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz how would you describe his personality as a schoolboy?

MUSHTAQ: It is not because he has become the Prime Minister of the country, but it is a matter of fact that he was one of the most disciplined students of the school. He was never penalized for late joining prayers in the morning assembly of the school ground. Occasionally, I used to visit his modest house in Garden area of Karachi. His father used to work in Radio Pakistan those days. Whenever I visited his house, his mother used to offer me "Sooji Halwa" that was a treat for me those days, I can remember. His parents were practicing Sunni Muslim. Allegations by some quarters regarding being Qadiani is a mere distortion of the facts by some vested interests.