At the time of independence in 1947, there were no pharmaceutical firms in Pakistan. Today, the country boasts more than 700 pharmaceutical manufacturing units. In fact, Quintile IMS in its latest quarterly report puts the ‘Active Manufacturers’ at 759, up from a total of 304 in 1999. Taking the Quintile IMS figure as a reference point, only 27 are Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) while Pakistani firms account for 645 of the total. The generally accepted figure for MNCs, though, is 17 or 184, down from 40 or more in the 1990s. Pharmaceutical companies are geographically spread all over Pakistan. Pharmaceutical production units in provinces tend to concentrate in major cities like Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar. Although the numbers reflect that the majority of firms are in the province of Punjab, in terms of production, capacity utilization, volume, and size of business, Karachi leads the way as far as pharmaceutical firms are concerned
Pakistan’s pharmaceutical industry has the potential to propel the country to a much-needed economic prosperity estimated at $5 billion-plus in a span of five years. Presently, however, Pakistan has a negligible presence in the global pharmaceutical industry of almost $1 trillion which is expected to grow to $1.1 trillion by 2014. Pakistan’s pharmaceutical industry stands at a little over $2.1 billion with exports of roughly $190 million. The cumulative annual growth rate of the pharmaceutical industry has been 12% during the last three years and local companies launched 2,956 products from 2008 to 2012 as compared to just 193 products by multinational companies.
Capital and quality human resources are likely to remain concentrated in the top 100 firms, specifically the top 50. Yet the increase in annual profits is to come from volume production rather than any new innovation or research into NCE. This volume production will be closely related to an increase in per capita income, general awareness, increase in literacy, investment in health and its related infrastructure, growth in population, and expansion of health facilities.