"Pakistan pharma industry looks at India as the big brother. The Indian pharma industry has prospered a lot. It has great quality FDA approved plants, raw materials for life saving drugs and companies like Ranbaxy which are competing globally. This makes the Indian pharma markets one of the best," Islamabad-based Pramount Pharmaceuticals CEO Nasir M Qureshi said on Thursday.
"Pakistan's pharma industry has grown from 20 manufacturers two decades ago to around 20 MNCs and 316 local manufacturers now. But in terms of quality, India is far superior. Its equipments are on par with European and American companies," Qureshi, who was here as part of a delegation to attend an international conference on technology-transfer, said.
Inspite of having a superior quality market in the neighbourhood, Pakistan is forced to trade with China due strict visa norms in India.
"Currently, we are completely dependent on China for the supply of raw materials and machineries. Our total pharma market size is equivalent to our trade with China. But we are not satisfied, which is why, we urge India to relax its visa norms" he said.
"Even though the equipments and raw materials in China are cheaper than India, they are inferior in quality. If the machinery develop snags, it's hard to operate for long as the Chinese don't offer after-sales services. This increases our overheads," Qureshi said.
The language barrier is compounding to their woes. Due to this, Pakistan's pharma industry is desperate to shift its entire $2 billion trade with China to India. But the lengthy visa clearance procedures hold them back.
"It is ironical that we have a world class market here but our potential clients have to trade with other countries," assistant sales manager, Marcus Evans India, the Indian subsidiary of UK-based business intelligence firm, Sridhar Iyer said."Lot of Pakistani companies wish to trade with India, not just in pharma sector but also in other spheres like insurance. But the lengthy process of issuing visa becomes demoralising," Iyer said.