The Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) warned on Wednesday that the country’s medicine shortage will likely worsen as pharmaceutical companies run out of raw materials.
According to details, PPMA Chairman Syed Farooq Bukhari informed the government that pharmaceutical companies are running out of raw materials to manufacture medicines.
He added that if the central bank does not open Letters of Credit (LCs) within 15 days, the country will face a severe shortage of medicines.
According to the chairman, at least 700 pharmaceutical companies have ordered medicine raw materials, and the government should open LCs so that the companies can pick up their goods.
He warned that if the LCs issue was not resolved within 15 days, there would be a medicine shortage.
Since November, 350 pharmaceutical firms’ consignments worth millions of dollars have been stopped at ports.
This was stated by Kaiser Waheed Sheikh, former chairman of the PPMA, in an interview with Business Recorder here on Tuesday, adding that if the government and the SBP did not take the necessary steps in time, the country would face a severe medicine shortage.
“Pakistan may face a shortage of medicines and medical devices in the coming months as local banks are not opening Letters of Credit (LCs) for the import of medicines’ raw materials and medical devices due to the dollar liquidity crunch,” he warned.
He went on to say that if the country does not ensure the import of medicine raw materials, the local markets will be flooded with fake medicines, and drugs will be sold at high prices on the black market, causing patients to suffer.
He also stated that consignments arriving at ports were not being retired, and that the SBP had issued a notification in this regard directing all banks to assist the pharmaceutical industry.
He stated that, despite the SBP’s clear instructions to not create any barriers for the pharmaceutical industry in the opening of LCs, all local banks were hesitant to open LCs for the import of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) due to a dollar shortage in the country.
“The PPMA has the money to buy medicines’ raw material from abroad but the dollar liquidity crunch in the country may result in a shortage of medicines in Pakistan in the weeks and months ahead,” he further said.
“Medicine raw materials with most of the pharmaceutical companies have dried up and they are unable to place orders for the raw material for the future. If LCs are not opened soon, it may result in medicine shortages like the shortage of Panadol, which was not available in most parts of the country.”
“The Panadol shortage was due to the price issue but now we are facing double jeopardy as on the one hand prices are not being increased while on the other hand, raw material is not being imported due to dollars’ unavailability with the central bank,” Sheikh further said.
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