Get Ready for 9th Nepal Pharma Expo 2024: A Must-Attend Event for Pharma Professionals

50% of the pharmaceutical industry may be closed [Interview]. If the government helps, we will make the country self-sufficient in medicine. The 9th Nepal Pharma Expo 2024 is being held at Chitwan Expo Center Bharatpur from March 8th, 2024, to March 10th, 2024 AD (25th to 27th Falgun 2080 B.S.), with the main slogan of 'Nepal pharmaceutical industry development and sustainability' in Chitwan by the Nepal Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association. Now, preparations for the expo are progressing rapidly. More than 150 stalls will be placed in the expo. About this expo, a conversation was held with Santosh Baral, vice president and media coordinator of the association:


How much has the Nepali pharmaceutical industry covered the Nepali pharmaceutical market?

The government needs to have accurate data about the percentage of drug consumption in Nepal. We have a rough estimate. There is a medicine market worth 90 billion rupees in Nepal. Out of that, Nepali medicine has a market share of 34 billion. In the case of 700 to 750 types of molecules produced by the Nepali pharmaceutical industry, the market share of the Nepali pharmaceutical industry is 70 percent. But if we take into account the total number of drugs, less than 50 percent of the drugs are produced in Nepal.

What should be done to increase the market share of the Nepali pharmaceutical industry?

So far, the government has given us only essential support. We have yet to receive such significant support from the government. There is a situation where only simple support from the drug administration department should be considered as the basis. Private pharmaceutical companies will increase the share of medicine in the Nepali market to 50 percent with their hard work. The government should protect Nepali medicine. Through the Drug Administration Department, we have informed the Ministry of Health of Population, Finance, Industry, Commerce, and Supply about the importance of safeguarding Nepali medications. With the government, we have said there is no need to import ten medicines of the same type produced in Nepal from abroad, and our demand is also the same.

We have made a demand to the government that the government should create a policy to allow pharmaceutical companies of Nepal to manufacture the drugs that are on the list of essential medicines, and the government should purchase those drugs directly from the industry. By doing so, the Nepali pharmaceutical industry will increase its market share even a little. The government is positive about this. It takes some time to get the result.

What are the legal problems of the Nepali pharmaceutical industry?

The Nepali pharmaceutical industry is affected by more than 20 laws enacted by the Nepali government. The expansion of the pharmaceutical industry, innovation, new products, old products, and new technology should continue to increase investment. Earlier, we ran a working capital loan of up to 80 percent; it was stopped in the middle and dropped to 40 percent. It has to be increased, so when we put the demand, it was 50 percent, but more is needed. We have demanded to improve the working capital loan through the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry has been positive for that. Due to the lack of harmony between the Ministry and the Nepal Rashtra Bank, the industry has suffered. Labor also creates a difficult environment in adversity; in COVID-19 and the economic recession, increasing the wages and allowances of workers unilaterally has led to a lack of investable funds.

What should the government do to increase the production of Nepali medicines?

We have said and demanded that there is a need for a committee or a branch in the Ministry of Finance, Health, and Industry under a separate law for the protection, development, and promotion of the pharmaceutical industry. We need financial and legal support and concessions to export Nepali medicines abroad. Nepal Rastra Bank should increase the working capital loan to at least 80 percent, and Nepal Rastra Bank should make a policy decision to value the drugs prepared through research and exploration as assets. Ten or more than ten drugs manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry should not be imported from abroad through the Department of Drug Administration. If there are ten drugs manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry in Nepal, if we can make policies and rules such as not allowing other pharmaceutical industries to make those drugs, then the existing pharmaceutical industry will survive; if not, if we look at the current situation (scenario), ten pharmaceutical industries have been closed in the last two years. The condition of other industries is also critical. At any given time, 50 percent of the pharmaceutical industry will be closed. The government should bring programs to save the Nepali pharmaceutical industry. The private industry has invested to some extent. The government is also a partner in the pharmaceutical industry investment. We have provided various government support, including taxes and employment. Therefore, developing, promoting, and protecting the pharmaceutical industry with the government's help is necessary. For pharmaceuticals, raw materials should be brought from different places worldwide. Those raw materials in the industry should be kept in stock for 6-7 months.

Similarly, ready-made salable medicines should be kept in stock in the industry, distributor, and retail. The minimum drug stock holding time is 6 to 7 months. Whose direct investment is from the pharmaceutical industry? That's why we need a working capital loan of more than 80 percent.

If the government supports the Nepali pharmaceutical industry, how much market share will it achieve?

In the case of drugs produced in Nepal, we currently have about 5,000 to 5,500 types of drugs of 700-750 kinds of molecules in Nepal. The market share of that drug is 70 to 75 percent. Our efforts, investment, and hard work have achieved it. Now, we have moved forward to reach 100 percent. For that, raw material from any corner of the world

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