Encourage domestic drug manufacturers: Minister Karki

Kathmandu, February 3

Minister for Information and Communications Surendra Kumar Karki said domestic production of medicines should be encouraged to reduce dependency on other countries for drugs.

Speaking at the Annual General Meeting of the Ayurvedic Medicine Manufacturers' Association Nepal today, Minister Karki said if the country's rich herbal resources were utilised well, it could address the problem of drug scarcity in the country.

"Investment in domestic drug manufacturers would reduce our country's dependency on other countries for medicine, and may even solve drug scarcity in the country," he said, adding the use of antibiotics was gradually creating adverse impact on people's health, and production of natural herbs should be encouraged. Proper use of medicinal herbs can boost economic activities too, he said.

The nation lacks skilled human resources to manufacture drugs, and drug manufacturers expressed that they feel the existing government policy worked against them.

Binod Paudel, president of Ayurvedic Medicine Manufacturers' Association Nepal, said the government's policies made market more favourable for imported drugs over domestic drugs.

"The law does not allow us to advertise our products. However, the government allows the broadcast of advertisements of foreign medicines in foreign channels, which are accessible to the general public. This puts domestic medicines at a disadvantage, and the demand for foreign medicines in the market is disproportionately higher than for domestic medicines," added Paudel.

Paudel claimed that this unfair advantage to imported medicines had pushed many domestic drug manufacturing industries to the brink of closure.

Similarly, former minister for local development Rajendra Pandey said the government was favouring foreign medicines over domestic medicines.