“Govt policy hinders growth of pharmaceutical industry”

CHITWAN: Despite having a capacity to fulfill 70 per cent of domestic demand, pharmaceutical companies in Nepal are only able to supply 41 per cent of total demand because of a regressive government policy that has promoted imports over in-house production, stakeholders said.

“Nepal’s pharmaceutical Industry is struggling to get a foot in the domestic market as the government citing costs has allowed import of relatively less expensive medicines from India,” Central Chair of Association of Pharmaceutical Producers of Nepal, Dipak Prasad Dahal said.

“We cannot compete with Indian industries in cost as the Indian government provides subsidies and incentives under 35 headings to Indian pharmaceuticals but Nepal government has not included such provisions in its policy,” Dahal added.

Moreover, Indian producers of medicines manufacture large quantities of drugs which has helped them achieve economies of scale such that only one per cent of medicines produced in India can fulfill Nepal’s demand.

Although majority of drug producing countries import only the raw materials, such policy has not yet been implemented in Nepal, informed Dahal.

Stating that drugs produced in Nepal can compete with medicines produced worldwide in terms of quality, medicines producers stressed the need to ban imports of pharmaceuticals to make Nepal self sufficient.

As per the official statistics, Nepal imported medicines worth Rs 25.81 billion during the fiscal year 2017/18. Out of the total imports, drugs amounting to Rs 21.42 billion were imported from India. During the same time period, Nepali pharmaceuticals were able to sell medicines worth Rs 18.25 billion.

At present there are 53 pharmaceutical industries operating in Nepal.