DRAP pledges to boost exports to $1b

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KARACHI, PAKISTAN: The CEO of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP), Asim Rauf, has pledged to elevate therapeutic good exports to $1 billion in the current financial year, a significant increase from the $713 million recorded in the last fiscal year.

“We held a high-level meeting on the side-line of this conference to set up a plan to achieve the target of $1 billion in exports in the current financial year. The government is working proactively in collaboration with all stakeholders of the pharmaceutical sector, including pharmaceutical companies, raw material producers, and universities, to scale up the footprint of this sector in different countries,” he stated during a media briefing on the concluding day of the three-day event titled: 20th PharmaAsia, 11th Pharma Convention, held at the Karachi Expo Centre on Thursday and organised by Ecommerce Gateway Pakistan.

Rauf highlighted that the government is actively facilitating the private sector in establishing five Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) plants. The aim is to boost the production of various medicines at a local level, reducing dependence on imported brands and ensuring the availability of medicines at affordable prices in the domestic market.

“DRAP has knuckled down to work to design an integrated system Quality Management System (QSM) with the close coordination of the provincial and federal drug inspection teams as per the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO), which will surprisingly scale down medicine prices in the future,” he added.

The DRAP CEO emphasised that the organisation monitors the availability and pricing of medicines in the local market through a robust information system. It also acts against those responsible for unjustified price increases. Despite a surge in medicine prices due to the rupee’s disparity against the US dollar, Rauf clarified that retail prices for a significant number of drugs have also been reduced.

“The DRAP CEO’s presence has underscored the collaborative spirit and commitment of stakeholders to drive innovation and excellence in the pharmaceutical sector,” noted Farhan Anis, Vice President of Pharma Asia Exhibition.

Seminar

Speaking at a seminar on pharmaceutical industry-academia linkage, Rauf highlighted that DRAP is in the process of signing Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with educational institutions to promote the sector through academic research and innovation.

“In the days of Covid-19, we heard the vaccine development was a huge task. This development usually takes approximately 10-15 years. That period was lessened and shortened to one-and-a-half years. It was possible due to various efforts. Efforts of the academia were outstanding. We need progress forward yearly in Pakistan. In the country, we see many challenges in the pharmaceutical industry, but we don’t find institutions, so I see there is a ray of hope today that we are talking about this issue, and we will be able to formulate a strategy after this seminar to ultimately move forward,” he stated.

Dr Arif Sabah from Ziauddin University underscored the need for linkages between educational institutions and the industry. He pointed out that both academia and industry lack research, and conducting research and developing products can bring both sides together in the healthcare system and pharmaceutical companies. He suggested dedicating the last semester of B-Pharmacy students to the industry or a hospital to gain practical and professional skills.

“In Pharma companies, there are certain units of production, quality control, supply chain, and the like. We are also deploying many tools in Artificial Intelligence (AI) as per our functionalities. For example, we generate AI models for some painkillers in times of rains or some medicines during Eidul Azha when more people are generally down with a stomach ache. This is an AI model that guides us about sales of particular products and how to package products easily and quickly as per the need in the market. AI also plays a pivotal role in the development of a new product in terms of research and operation. On top of that, this research and operation can connect the pharmaceutical industry with academia. Finally, I urge academia to teach some IT or computer courses so that fresh graduates of the pharmacy department have appropriate knowledge about technology,” said pharmaceutical industry professional and expert Abdul Aziz.

With 650 stalls, the exhibition promised an extensive showcase of state-of-the-art products, services, and innovations where over 160 international representatives from China, Turkey, Vietnam, the UK, Germany, and Malaysia took part.

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