Islamabad: The Pakistan government has blocked a proposal for importing 400 medicines from India following intense lobbying against the move by the local pharmaceutical industry.
The proposal forwarded by Pakistan’s commerce ministry was stalled ahead of an expected hike of up to 40% in the prices of life-saving drugs in the country.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has reportedly issued a direction that no drug produced in Pakistan should be imported. Gilani also sought justification for importing from India 13 vaccines and some oncology drugs that are currently not produced in Pakistan, sources told the Dawn newspaper. However, the import of these vaccines and oncology products will continue.
Health Secretary Khushnood Lashari will meet Commerce Secretary Asif Shah to ensure that the proposal for importing Indian drugs is closed.
Sources in the commerce ministry had leaked information about the proposal to import Indian drugs to the local pharmaceutical industry, which used its “contacts” to pre-empt the move, the daily said.
Local entrepreneurs contended that the proposed imports would threaten the jobs of over one million people, affect annual exports worth more than $120 million and compromise the availability of medicines during emergencies.
Pakistan’s pharmaceutical industry is worth Rs83 billion and enjoys considerable political clout.
Meanwhile, the health ministry’s advisory committee on drug prices has recommended a 10-40% increase in prices of various life-saving drugs.