Breakthrough in pharmaceuticals

With an annual turnover of $500 million, Bangladesh's pharmaceutical industry is a unique success story. The industry is now making quality medicines, which were previously beyond their reach, available to millions at affordable prices.


Bangladesh is essentially a branded generic market. Its pharmaceutical industry's major competency lies in formulation. At present, more than 230 companies have operations in the country, out of which around 200 have their own manufacturing facilities, including 5 multinational companies. The industry is also involved in developing active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) with 21 different companies, and at present manufactures 41 APIs.


Morbidity and mortality from the scourges of malaria, dengue, cholera and typhoid have reduced substantially over the years in Bangladesh. Increased affordability and availability of medicines have contributed towards this achievement. Bangladesh now has an average life expectancy of 61 years, which is at the top end in the sub-continent.


Among the least developed countries (LDCs), Bangladesh is the only one that can boast a local pharmaceutical industry, catering to around 96 percent of the country's needs. Over the years, the role of imports has diminished substantially to currently stand at about 4 percent, covering mainly insulin, vaccines and anti-cancer drugs.


Local companies cater to about 80 percent of the market at present, and the rest of the demand is met by multinationals. Local firms are continuing expansion and upgradation of their facilities to be at par with international levels.


Pharmaceutical products from Bangladesh are now being exported to nearly 70 countries in Asia, Africa and Europe.


Bangladesh's ability to face competition in the global export market from countries like India, China, Brazil and Turkey lies in the industry's strict quality compliance. All the major companies comply with World Health Organization's (WHO) good manufacturing practice (GMP) guidelines, and a few are even going beyond WHO GMP with a view to creating a niche in regulated markets like the United States and the European Union.


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