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CJP directs commercialisation of research breakthroughs

ISLAMABAD: The Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (LJCP) has directed government institutions to commercialise research breakthroughs in the country.

The commission, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, issued the directive after a hearing of stakeholders in Islamabad on Monday.

Justice Nisar had taken a suo motu notice in December regarding commercialisation of research breakthroughs.

National Health Services (NHS) Minister Aamer Mehmood Kiani, Executive Director of the National Institute of Health Dr Aamer Ikram, Chief Executive Officer of the Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (Drap) Sheikh Akhtar Hussain and Chairman of the Higher Education Commission Dr Tariq Banuri were among those who attended the hearing.

The Law and Justice Commission asked the Higher Education Commission to consider setting up a “biotech park” for benefit of undergraduate and postgraduate students. The HEC was also asked to arrange training modules in biotechnology, life sciences, agriculture and pharmaceuticals.

Dr Javed Akram, Vice Chancellor of the University of Health Sciences (UHS) , told Dawn that the Ministry of National Health Services had assured the commission that a committee would be established by Jan 15 to ensure clinical trials of researches.

Dr Akram said universities, the Pakistan Health Research Council, HEC, Pakistan Science Foundation and other institutions spent around Rs100 billion a year on research, but their breakthroughs were never commercialised. Thus the consumer has no option but to spend an amount 10 to 20 times higher on different products.

There were a number of breakthroughs, but the public did not benefit from them because of pressure from international companies, he added.

“When I was vice chancellor at the Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Medical University, a research study was started to make artificial skin since, according to a study, the ratio of burn injury cases was the highest in Pakistan.

“After becoming UHS vice chancellor, I shifted the research to this institution and finally we came up with artificial skin in our laboratory last year. We contacted Drap for issuance of licence for commercial manufacturing, but it was not done,” he recalled.

Had the licence been issued, “we could have manufactured artificial skin and reduced mortality from 70pc to 40pc”, Dr Akram added.

According to him, skin costs $700 per square inch in the international market, but in Pakistan it can be sold for just Rs710.

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