APPON calls for level playfield

Katmandu, January 3:

Nepali pharmaceuticals producers have urged neighbouring countries for reciprocal

treatment of their products. They also complained of ineffective monitoring of sub-standard products flooding the market.

“If other countries do not let our products enter, our government should levy highest tariff — under WTO norms — on imported drugs that we produce,” said Pradeep Man Vaidya, immediate past president (IPP) of the Association of Pharmaceuticals Producers

of Nepal (APPON) at its 15th annual general meeting (AGM) here yesterday.

“The market is flooded with unregistered and sub-standard drugs due to ineffective monitoring by the Department of Drugs Management,” he said adding while nd Nepali companies are hurt people are compelled to buy fake products, with fatal side effects.

Every drug sold in the country should be registered and certified by the Department of Drugs Management, said Pradeep Jung Pandey, vice-president of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) and former president of APPON. “The department lacks manpower and adequate infrascture for effective monitoring,” he added.

“The government should bring a new policy to boost the confidence of pharma producers,” he said adding that the present Act was brought one-and-half decades ago in 2051 BS and that it was a major hurdle in developing the pharma industry.

If the government brings a supportive policy, Nepal can be self-dependent by 2013, Vaidya said, adding, “It will not only produce sufficient pharma products but also start exporting them.”

There are currently over 40 pharmaceutical industries that fulfil 35 per cent of the total market demand in Nepal. “In 1970, the pharma industry came into existence but it is only after 1990 that the sector started flourishing,” informed said APPON president Umesh Lal Shrestha, who has been re-elected for another term.

He said that like other industries the Rs 7 billion pharma industry was also hurt by power-outage, fuel shortage, worsening labour problems, frequent bandhs, unstable politics and policy level hurdles. “Over a dozen companies are WHO/GMP certified and more are in the process of getting certified to guarantee the quality of domestic products,” Shrestha said adding, “Apart from that, Nepali drugs are cheaper.”

“Nepali drugs are of international quality,” affirmed health secretary Dr Dirgha Singh Bam adding that unhealthy and unethical competition has marred the Nepali pharma industry. “It is the government’s responsibility to protect the national industry and give it priority,” he said.

Nepal Medical Association (NMA) president Dr Chop Lal Bhusal supported Dr Bam’s stance and urged the government to protect the national industry.

Minister for Industries, Astalaxmi Shakya, assured APPON of the government’s support.