Category Archives: Pharmaceutical Industry/Healthcare

Bangladesh to lead Third World in medical physics

http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.info/search_index.php?page=detail_news&news_id=39786

Bangladesh to lead Third World in medical physics

News Network quoting Professor K. Siddique-e-Rabbani of Dhaka University

EIGHTY per cent of the global population living in the third world countries hardly get the services of modern healthcare technologies and are unlikely to get in the foreseeable future if the development of appliances and their commercialisation is done by the rich countries.

Professor K Siddique-e-Rabbani of Dhaka University in a lecture at the 16th International Conference of Medical Physics (ICMP) held at Dubai in April 2008 said, ECG and the X-ray machines were invented over 100 years ago and still majority of the population in the third world countries do not get their benefits.

He said the only way to remove the disparity is to allow the third world people to design and manufacture the necessary equipment in their own countries. This will make the equipment affordable apart from other advantages like better longevity, repair and scope for maintenance. It will also allow innovation of new methods and devices to deal with specific health problems.

According to Prof Rabbani, with the existing knowledge of relevant science and engineering disciplines and the existing infrastructures, the third world technologists can design and make in their own countries, almost 90 per cent of the equipment that are needed to deliver modern healthcare. But fear of unfamiliarity, lack of practical exposure and confidence bars them from making such attempts.

There is also a vested quarter that wants to serve the interests of the multinational manufacturers as they influence the policymakers in the third world countries.

Prof Rabbani was highly acclaimed by the audience, including senior members of the International Organisation of Medical Physics (IOMP).

Dr. Rabbani said with 30 years of continued efforts in developing indigenous capability in Biomedical Physics and Engineering at Dhaka University and at Bangladesh Institute for Biomedical Engineering and Appropriate Technology (BiBEAT), Bangladesh is now ready to take the leading role in the Third World in this respect and plans to set up an international centre in Dhaka in this connection.

He also presented sample slides of a computerised ECG circuit trainer involving both hardware and software. which he designed and fabricated from scratch. It was also used to train engineers from several countries at a short course and workshop organised by the Islami University of Technology (IUT) in Gazipur last year.

The workshop was a great success and a few foreign and local participants purchased and carried home a few of these trainer kits to initiate the training in their respective institutions.

This particular training programme could be a beginning to trigger the technological confidence in the third world Dr. Rabbani said in his lecture.

He currently leads the research at the Biomedical Physics Laboratory, Department of Physics, Dhaka University

The history of the above efforts in Bangladesh goes back to 1978 when Dr. A Sattar Syed, a senior Physicist at BSCIR at the time, took the initiative to take up research on electromagnetic stimulation for bone healing together with his friend late Professor M. Shamsul Islam at the Dhaka University Physics department.

Professor Islam motivated and induced Dr. Rabbani, a fresh Ph.D. in Electronics, to help and join this research team, and thus was formed the pioneering group of Medical Physics research in Bangladesh.

This later grew manifold due to an academic link in 1983 with Sheffield University through the efforts of Professor Islam and Professor B.H. Brown, and supported by the British ODA.

Over the years more than 80 students have done their Master thesis in Medical Physics under Dr. Rabbani.

Recently, a few have completed M. Phil and PhD as well.

All necessary specialised research equipment were designed and fabricated locally. SME of these groundbreaking researches, particularly in Nerve conduction measurement and in electrical impedance methods for physiological study and diagnosis, have received international acclaim through both conferences and publications.

This brings a ray of hope and possibility for Bangladesh to serve the global humanity, particularly in the Third World, as a leader of appropriate technology in Medical Physics.

Eskayef becomes first local firm to export medicine to Indonesia

http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=45042

Eskayef becomes first local firm to export medicine to Indonesia
Star Business Desk

Eskayef Bangladesh Ltd, one of the leading pharmaceutical companies in the country, has sent its first consignment of medicines to Indonesia, according to a press release.

This is the first consignment of medicines to Indonesia by any pharmaceutical company from Bangladesh. Indonesia with a population of 237 million is a very potential export market for the Bangladeshi pharmaceutical products.

In April 2006, Managing Director of the company AM Faruque and Head of International Business Mahmud Hasan visited Indonesia with the support of the Indonesian embassy to Bangladesh, particularly Hendra P Iskandar, the first secretary and head of Chancery of the embassy.

During their visit to Indonesia, they met top officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health and Drug Administration Authority and different pharmaceutical companies.

In May 2007 a business delegation from Indonesia came to Bangladesh and visited Eskayef plant. The delegates were convinced of the standard of Eskayef Bangladesh, and signed an agreement.

After completing relevant registration formalities, Eskayef Bangladesh started exporting to Indonesia.

AM Faruque said, “Indonesia is a regulated market and the country has a very strong pharmaceutical base. Due to our high quality standard, we have got the approval and started exporting to Indonesia.”

“We are already exporting our products to many countries across four continents,” he added.

Square joins hands with PC Pharma in Sri Lanka

http://www.newagebd.com/2008/jun/28/busi.html#13

Square joins hands with PC Pharma in Sri Lanka
Business Desk

The Square Pharmaceuticals Ltd has recently gone into a strategic partnership with PC Pharma of Sri Lanka, a subsidiary of PCH Holding, a corporate group having an integrated chain of well diversified businesses in Sri Lanka.

Under the strategic partnership, PC Pharma, which is the first of its kind in attaining the ISO 9001-2000 certification for pharmaceutical importation in Sri Lanka, would market a large range of Square’s products, said a press release.

Apart from the regularly demanded pharmaceutical products, this partnership would also see the launch of molecules in such therapeutic categories as antidiabetic, neuropsychiatry, antibiotics, cardiac, respiratory, dermatology and ear and eye preparations coupled with forming a partnership with Square Cephalosporins Ltd, enabling to serve with the latest generations of cephalosporin products including injectables for the Sri Lankan market.

Govt mulls NRBs’ offer to set up pharma research centre

http://www.newagebd.com/2008/jun/27/busi.html#4

Govt mulls NRBs’ offer to set up pharma research centre

Kazi Azizul Islam

The government is considering a proposal, of some non-resident Bangladeshis in Australia, for setting up a pharmaceutical research centre in the country. Sources in the Board of Investment, which is working on the proposal, told New Age the government high-ups responded positively to the proposal feeling the necessity of such a centre to support growth of the pharmaceutical companies as well as their export mission.

According to the BoI officials, a group of NRB investors proposed raising funds from Australia for setting up of the multimillion dollar centre which required sophisticated equipment.

The BoI officials told New Age that Dr. Zahir Khan, an NRB and a renowned pharmaceutical expert Australia in, forwarded the proposal to the BoI through the Bangladesh embassy in Canberra.

The BoI is discussing the proposal with the representatives of pharmaceutical entrepreneurs, officials of the Export Promotion Bureau and other stakeholders.

‘We are considering the venture as potential for the growth of increasing number of drug exporters in Bangladesh,’ a senior official of the EPB said.

As the proposal came from private sector and people having experiences in the developed counties, the official said, the venture is expected to gain success.

The BoI was apprised that several hundred Bangladeshi pharmacists, microbiologists and other pharmaceutical professionals were working in the EU, US and Australian private and public organisations.

‘The venture can help the local companies in promoting drugs for both local and overseas markets,’ said one BoI official.

Local exporters are preparing to capture the EU and US drug markets as Bangladesh, being advanced among other LDCs, has potential to utilise the easy market access with its cost-effective products.

According to a WTO agreement, the LDCs do not have to implement any kind of intellectual property rights at least before 2016 for medicines and drugs.

Around 30 Bangladeshi drugs producers have so far explored markets in more than 50 countries including Africa, Latin America and Asia.

According to the EPB sources, export figure will surely reach $40 million with a growth of 50 per cent in the current fiscal.

But, the industry insiders said the current amount is almost nothing compared to the industry’s capacity and potential in the global market.

They claimed that with already increased production capacity for 20 billion pieces of tablets, only for export, local drug makers can immediately feed a market for $2 billion.

Pharmaceuticals eye EU market

http://www.newagebd.com/2008/jun/25/busi.html#1

Pharmaceuticals eye EU market
Kazi Azizul Islam

Export of drugs manufactured in Bangladesh will see big boost soon as major Bangladeshi drug makers, having secured vital accreditations for the European market, are preparing to export to this lucrative market.

According to industry sources, Beximco the leading exporter that explored markets from the Fareast to Latin America, is set to acquire accreditations for Australia and countries under the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Incepta and Renata are getting ready for the highly sensitive European market while Square, the local market leader, is working on several follow-up orders for buyers in UK after sending its first consignment a few months back.

‘We will ship our first consignment to Europe within three months,’ said Abdul Muktadir, managing director of Incepta that secured EU-GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certificate in December, 2007.

Incepta is preparing consignments of anti-diabetics, anti-hypertency, anti cholesterol and naturopathic drugs to be procured by a major EU importer.

‘Just during the past one month we received four potential enquires from Europe,’ said the Incepta official which is third in the local market with sales worth about 300 crore ($43 million) in 2007.

He, however, observed that it was not significant how much money Bangladeshi drug makers earned from the EU market. ‘Ensuring importers’ confidence and consistency is crucial now as global drug importers are desperately searching for reliable alternative sources to China or India. So a multibillion dollar market beckons Bangladesh.’

Renata, another giant pharmaceutical, is preparing to export significant number of consignments, contracted with a major pharmaceutical company in UK, of steroids, apparently used in number of life saving drugs.

‘We will be able to ship our first consignment within in a couple of months,’ Monjurul Alam, head of the international business department of the Renata, told New Age on Tuesday.

Renata’s export division, which at present markets drugs in Sri Lanka, Philippines, Hong Kong, Jordan and is eyeing the million dollar mark this current year, is enthusiastic about opportunities in the EU.

‘I see a drug import market worth billions of euros staring at Bangladesh,’ said Alam.

At present multinational Novartis (Bangladesh) exports drugs to Germany and Austria.

Ashfaque Ur Rahman, managing director of Novartis, which shipped mainly cardiovascular and neurological drugs worth about $17 million to Europe in 2007, expects entrance of more Bangladeshi companies into the European market would reap more benefits.

‘200 per cent!’ said Ashfaque when asked about European clients’ impression about the quality of Bangladeshi drugs.

Around 30 Bangladeshi drugs makers explored markets in more than 50 countries including those in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

According to the Export Promotion Bureau, export figures will surely reach $40 million with a growth of 50 per cent in the current fiscal to be closed at the end of this month.

But, Nazmul Hasan, the chief executive of Beximco Pharmaceuticals, that eye more than $3 million as its 2008 export proceeds, said, ‘The current amount is almost nothing compared to the industry’s capacity and potential in the global market.’

Nazmul said besides Beximco’s capacity to produce 4 billion pieces, only the large drug manufacturers are ready for manufacturing drugs for the export market, which would require at least 20 billion pieces. ‘If one tablet sells at 10 cents on an average we are ready to earn $2 billion.’

Nazmul foresees that by mid-2009 Bangladesh drug makers will find global markets especially the advanced markets ripe for them.

‘By early next year, most of the patent related cases in WTO will be settled and drug markets will clearly see which items are beyond the purview of patents thus and open for LDCs to produce,’ he said.

According to a WTO agreement, LDCs do not have to implement any kind of intellectual property rights before 2016 for medicines and drugs.

Eskayef to buy medicine licences in UK

http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=40353

Eskayef to buy medicine licences in UK
Jasim Uddin Khan

Eskayef Bangladesh Ltd., a leading pharmaceutical company in the country, is going to buy several pharma product licences registered in the United Kingdom (UK) to produce those at the company’s new plant for marketing the item to the lucrative European market.

The local company management expects a deal to be signed with a UK company next month, as negotiations to obtain product licences of Ciprofloxacin, Omeprazole and Ondensatron generic drugs are now at final stage.

“We have already opened an office in London and hired consultants to conduct the first licence procurement deal with the UK firm which I do not want to name right now. We expect that the agreement will be signed within July,” AM Faruque, managing director of Eskayef, said.

Like Eskayef two other Bangladeshi companies, Renata Limited and Square Pharmaceuticals, also initiated steps to buy product licences from the UK.

“This is the fastest way the local companies can easily join the global market. The main advantage we enjoy is the production cost. We can produce drug at almost fifty percent lesser cost than that any UK company can do,” Faruque said.

Many British drug firms own three to four licences of a single product, which they usually do not market now. So some of the pharma firms are eager to sell their licences to other firms, said Faruque explaining the reasons why the firms of that country wanted to sell their licences.

Any Bangladeshi company can produce and market any registered drug of UK, if it procures licence and has the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) facility of its own. The Eskaef developed all facilities in its plant and it is hopeful of getting the MHRA approval soon.

The local pharma firm top official also pointed to the fact that many UK firms suspended production of some of their generic drugs on the plea that manufacture of those products would not be viable on the big companies’ part because of a little demand for the products. This situation, Faruque said, might be considered as an advantage by the local pharmaceuticals.

Besides, the UK government policy is now encouraging people to buy low cost medicine. This policy changes also woo Bangladeshi firms to procure UK pharma product licences.

Soon after signing an agreement, Eskaef will apply to the Bangladesh government to transfer the licence fee to the UK.

The present foreign exchange regulation of Bangladesh does not support transferring huge amount of money to other country but the procurement of a licence is an involvement of millions of taka, said S Kaiser Kabir, chief executive officer and managing director of Renata Limited.

He said during a meeting of the Better Business Forum he demanded lifting the restriction on transferring foreign currency abroad.

It takes minimum three to four years for any Bangladeshi company to get registration of any of their products in the UK, while it takes six months to one year to complete all the process of buying a licence of any UK drug firm, Kabir went on.

“The country’s pharmaceutical industry is passing through a dramatic change in the trade, as many Indian drug firms have become global players by procuring product licence,” Kabir added.

Kabir said procurement of licence and transfer of the production site from UK to Bangladesh will add much value to pharma production.

The country earned US$32.97 million by exporting pharmaceutical products to around 67 countries during the first nine months of the current 2007-08 fiscal, which is 60 percent up over the same period in the previous fiscal.

Deputy General Manager (Marketing) of Square Pharma Mijanur Rahman said they initiated talks with a UK company to procure a product licence recently.

Square pharma is the first company that has obtained the MHRA certificate and has all facilities to produce and market products to the UK, he added.

Renata set to export medicine to Europe

http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=39651

Renata set to export medicine to Europe
First consignment ready for shipping to UK
Jasim Uddin Khan

Renata Limited, the second pharmaceutical company in Bangladesh to win approval to manufacture drugs for the European market, is poised to send its first consignment to the UK.

The country’s seventh largest pharmaceutical group in terms of sales, has won an order to supply a UK drug company with Prednisolone, a generic steroid product.

The deal marks another significant step in the attempts by Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical industry to expand its export markets and become a serious player in the global pharmaceutical business.

The consignment has already been produced at the Renata’s facility in Mirpur and is now waiting for the final approvals before it can be shipped.

“We are ready to ship the first consignment of drug anytime to Europe as soon as we get the green signal from the UK company,” Syed S. Kaiser Kabir, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Renata Limited.

Gaining access to the European market is a long and difficult process and took Renata around four year. Before any drugs can be sold authorities from the importing country must meticulously inspect production facilities.

Last year Renata’s newly built US$3 million Potent Product Facility was approved by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

The approval was for Prednisolone tablets and the company is now seeking MHRA approval for other classes of drugs including oncology medicines and immunosuppressants in order to supply these to European markets.

Prednisolone is used to treat different conditions such as allergic disorders, skin conditions, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, lupus, psoriasis, or breathing disorders.

Renata is the second pharmaceutical company after Square Pharmaceuticals to gain MHRA approval. Square has already shipped products to the UK, and hopes to gain further orders in the lucrative European market through contract manufacturing of bulk drugs and formulations.

Several other groups are in the process of seeking MHRA approval.

Industry leaders belief the country has the ability to win a greater share of the international drug market due to the low costs of manufacture in Bangladesh. Mainly this is due to the relatively low cost of labour, especially skilled white-collar staff.

Bangladesh also has opportunities under the WTO’s agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights that give the country the strong rights to manufacture generic drugs that it can export to other less developed countries.

So far however the process has been slow, due to the extreme difficulty in gaining approvals from foreign regulatory bodies, especially to the major markets of Europe and North America.

The country earned US$32.97 by exporting pharmaceuticals products to around 67 countries during the first nine months of the current 2007-08 fiscal up 60 percent over the same period in the previous fiscal.

Renata Limited earned 33.60 crore net profit after tax in the year 2007 ended December 2007 against the profit of Tk 24.21 crore in 2006.

Earning per share of the company rose to Tk 348.47 each in the year 2007 against the previous year’s Tk 251.18 against the value of each share Tk 100.

The company was founded in 1972 as a subsidiary of Pfizer Inc and the ownership transferred from Pfizer Inc. to local institutions and the general public in 1993.

API Park to give pharma industry a major boost

http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.info/search_index.php?page=detail_news&news_id=35266

API Park to give pharma industry a major boost

Shahiduzzaman Khan

Of late, the government’s highest planning body, the executive committee of the national economic council (ECNEC), gave green signal to the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) Park in Munshiganj recently at an overall project cost of Tk 2.13 billion. With the approval, the country’s pharmaceutical sector is all set to woo a Tk 20 billion in fresh investment.

As the government has finally cleared the way for the country’s first hub for medicine raw materials, a long standing demand of the fast growing pharmaceutical sector has been fulfilled. Local pharmaceutical sector produces some 90 per cent of the country’s total medicine need but import most of the raw materials from India, China, Italy and Germany.

The proposed API Park is expected to inject a fresh momentum in the medicine industry. President of the Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (BAPI) FM Shafiuzzaman said the decision has fulfilled a decade long demand for a medicine raw materials hub. Already a huge investment portfolio has been lined up for investment in the API Park.

Bangladesh’s more than 100 pharmaceutical plants imported medicine raw materials worth Tk 15 billion last year. The country can save at least 70 per cent of the amount by producing raw materials at the API Park. The industry produced medicines worth Tk 50.00 billion last year, with the market growing over 12 per cent annually over the last half a decade. The industry also exported drugs worth a record $32 million in the first nine months of the fiscal, posting a massive 60 per cent growth over the same period last fiscal.

The park is scheduled to transform the drug industry as a major export earner. The country will be benefited immensely if the park is set up as quickly as possible as Bangladesh is now enjoying a special benefit to export drugs to all over the world under a World Trade Organisation (WTO) deal. The WTO’s Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement signed in 2002 has allowed all the least developed countries (LDCs) to export patent-free drugs to anywhere in the world between 2006 and 2016. Among the 49 LDCs, Bangladesh has the strongest base to manufacture pharmaceutical products, although the country hardly has any raw material production facilities.

Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) has been assigned to set up the proposed park. The project is expected to be completed by 2011. The corporation will develop the infrastructure with state-of-the-art facilities including a central effluent treatment plant (ETP) and incinerator for solid and liquid wastes management. After completion of infrastructure development, a total of 40 industrial plots will be allocated to individual companies for setting up API plants. The park will be operated through a public-private partnership.

A total of 30 drug companies have already applied for plots at the API park. They have the money ready to establish plants. The companies will start producing APIs within six months after the government hands over the plots to them. It is really impossible to be competitive in the international medicine market if a company doesn’t produce its own raw materials. Bangladeshi companies need to invest in a big way in API Park if they want to have a big slice of the export pie. The country has a total of 164 companies with the top ten controlling more than 70 per cent of the market. Another 68 companies have been registered with the Board of Investment (BoI) but haven’t started operation.

The government several years back agreed to set up an API Park when approached by the leaders of the Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (BAPI). The BAPI explained to the government leaders the importance of having a park as early as possible to help the country in a big way in exploiting the opportunity offered to it through the waiver of certain provisions of the WTO Agreement on TRIPS and Public Health for the least developed countries (LDCs). Under the waiver facility, an LDC is allowed to export patented drugs without any limit to other LDCs having no or inadequate drug manufacturing facilities until January 1, 2016.

The Council for TRIPs took a decision on June 2, 2003 to this effect in accordance with the recommendations of the WTO’s Doha Ministerial held in 2001. Since then, the local pharmaceutical manufacturers have been trying to convince the administration to do the needful, including the establishment of an API park, to help the country to make the best use of the exemption. But five years have gone by with the government making promises after promises in this respect in spite of the fact that Bangladesh is positioned uniquely among all the LDCs so far as pharmaceutical sector is concerned. Among the LDCs, it has the best drug manufacturing facilities with huge export potentials. With annual average growth rate of about 10 per cent, country’s pharmaceutical industry is not far away from achieving self-sufficiency in meeting the local demand.

Local pharmaceutical companies are enjoying a market share of more than 80 per cent while the multi-nationals 20 per cent. Some of the leading local pharmaceutical companies have set up state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. What has made Bangladesh as one of the leading drug manufacturers among the LDCs and in South Asia is its very strong finished formulation-manufacturing base. Bangladesh began small-scale export of drugs and medicines back in the late 80s. At least two local manufacturers took initiatives on their own to export pharmaceutical products to some less-regulated overseas markets like neighbouring Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka in the absence of any official support and incentives.

In the early 90s, a few more companies joined the race and Bangladesh could make inroads in some of the partially regulated markets, including Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Singapore. The success in entering these markets was viewed as a major breakthrough for the Bangladesh pharmaceutical industry. Since then the export of pharmaceutical products has been rising. However, the rate of growth of exports has been well below the actual potentials. The absence of an API park to a large extent is holding the country back from making pharmaceutical exports to its full potentials.

After coming to power, the present caretaker administration took up the API issue and decided to get the job done as soon as possible The government held a meeting with a World Bank (WB) mission to get funds from the Bank to set up the park at an estimated cost of Tk. 4.52 billion on 300 acres of land in Munshiganj district. The WB mission has agreed to provide necessary funds only after the completion of a study on social and environmental aspects of the project. Another development partner — the Department for International Development (DFID) of UK — has agreed to in principle conduct the study.

With the ECNEC approval, it is expected that all concerned do need to develop an effective partnership to get the API park project implemented within a shortest possible time to help the country avail itself of the opportunity offered through the exemption of patent regulations under the TRIPS. In addition to getting all the production facilities geared up, the local pharmaceutical industry should bolster its efforts for exploring newer markets, particularly in Africa and Latin America — where a large number of developing countries and LDCs have scanty drug manufacturing facilities.

Exciting prospects of earning billions from medicine exports

http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.info/search_index.php?page=detail_news&news_id=35189

Exciting prospects of earning billions from medicine exports

Enayet Rasul

Indeed, the foreign currency earning prospects of the pharmaceutical sector are considered to be no less than the readymade garment (RMG) which is presently the single biggest export earning sector of the country. With steady promotional activities favouring the local pharmaceutical industries, these in the near future may overtake the RMG sector in export earnings. This is the view of experts.

Reportedly, the country earned the equivalent of 1.3 billion Taka from medicine export in fiscal year 2004-5, Taka 1.84 billion in 2005-6 and Taka 1.94 billion in 2006-7. More than taka 5 billion worth of pharmaceutical products have been exported so far in the current year. From the way medicine export from Bangladesh is picking up, it is projected that export earnings from this sector can rise to some 50 billion Taka in the medium term. The higher earnings show that the pharmaceutical industry has been doing progressively better ; an upward progression in the export of medicines is noted . This is no doubt heartening news in the backdrop of the pressing need to diversify export products and earn more from exports to add to the foreign currency reserve .

World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreements have created vast opportunities for Bangladeshi medicine producers to substantially increase medicine exports from this country between 2006 to 20016. Bangladesh can export medicines as a least developed country to 49 countries under the WTO agreement without fulfilling patent requirements. Its neigbouring and competing countries – Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India – do not have this facility that limit their exports in this field. A Bangladeshi company was invited to export to European markets in the present year. Opportunities for exporting medicines to Myanmar on a large scale are there. The demand for our medicines in the Middle Eastern and African countries are rising fast.

However, policies of successive governments from now on will have to be in the right direction to keep on encouraging this potential sector. If supports not in words but in deeds are extended to it, then it will soon emerge as a very thriving one tapping the vast international market and earning bounties in foreign currencies.

The government should immediately recognise the merit of accepting and working on the proposals that have been made by the Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (BAPI). The demands are fair and realistic to truly promote the sector. The BAPI has demanded giving of cash incentives to export-oriented pharmaceutical industries. Such incentives are being given to other export-oriented sectors and there is no reason for the pharmaceutical industries with so much export possibilities not to enjoy the same. The pharmaceutical industries would be fully deserving such incentives as the government officially accorded recognition to them as a thrust sector. But matching this declaration the cash incentives have not followed. Incentives ranging from 10 to 30 per cent are enjoyed by medicine exporters from India, Sri Lanka and China.

The other major demands is for the establishment of a government operated central testing laboratory for export- oriented pharmaceutical industries. The laboratory can be very useful in strengthening the reputation of local pharmaceutical products abroad through dependable quality certification. The BAPI has also urged the establishment of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) plants. The creation of such a plant will likely much increase the value-addition and competitiveness of locally owned pharmaceutical industries. The making of medicines locally after importing the raw materials adds to costs and time. Both can be substantially reduced and the longer term growth and security of the sector can be ensured by building the API plants.

The plan to set up an API producing park has been very recently adopted in a meeting of the National Economic Council. Thus, the way has been cleared for the establishment of this pivotal facility at Munshiganj in Dhaka. After its establishment, a number of local pharmaceutical companies are expected to invest some Taka 20 billion in it to set up plants to manufacture pharmaceutical ingredients. It now all depends upon how swiftly the government moves to implement the plan. The same involves getting plots ready for hand over to the pharma industries which are bent on investing in this API park. Not only getting the plots ready, government should set up various required supporting infrastructures inside the park for the companies to be enabled to establish and run the API plants there at the earliest. If the government corporation which would be developing the API project does its work in due time, the companies to invest in it can be expected to start producing APIs within only six months of getting their plots.

Considerable hazards or bureaucratic obstacles are confronted by the local pharmaceutical companies in sending samples abroad, to station or appoint representatives in foreign countries, in sending money for the purpose and doing other promotional activities. Government is expected to sort out these problems. Our foreign missions abroad should be directed to play a truly energetic role in searching markets and engaging in promotional activities for the pharmaceutical sector. The patent law of 1933 still remains though its suitable amendments are considered as necessary by exporters in the field to go for wider export activities.

Besides, a number of major exporters in the sector are now facing very great problems in maintaining their activities.

For example, Beximco Pharma, is considered as a flagship enterprise in this sector. But its export momentum has dwindled down notably as a consequence of the anticorruption drive. A number of other medicine exporting companies are facing similar problems. Government should take steps promptly for these companies to sustain in their full operations.

New era beckons drug industry as govt clears first API Park

http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.info/search_index.php?page=detail_news&news_id=35046

New era beckons drug industry as govt clears first API Park

FHM Humayan Kabir

The country’s pharmaceutical sector is all set to woo a Tk 20 billion in fresh investment as the government has finally cleared the way for the country’s first hub for medicine raw materials.

The government’s highest planning body, the executive committee of the national economic council (ECNEC), last week approved the Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) at Munshiganj at an overall project cost of Tk 2.13 billion.

The approval fulfills a long standing demand of the fast growing pharmaceutical sector, which produces some 90 per cent of the country’s total medicine need but import most of the raw materials from India, China, Italy and Germany.

“The API Park will inject a fresh momentum in the medicine industry. It will take us to a new height,” President of the Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (BAPI) FM Shafiuzzaman told the FE Wednesday.

“It also fulfils our decade long demand for a medicine raw materials hub. I am confident that it is going to transform the pharmaceutical sector for good. Already some Tk 20 billion has been lined up for investment in the API Park,” he said.

Bangladesh’s more than 100 pharmaceutical plants last year imported medicine raw materials worth Tk 15 billion. The BAPI president said the country can save at least 70 per cent of the amount by producing raw materials at the API Park.

The industry produced medicines worth Tk 50.00 billion last year, with the market growing over 12 per cent annually over the last half a decade.

The industry also exported drugs worth a record $32 million in the first nine months of the fiscal, posting a massive 60 per cent growth over the same period last fiscal.

BAPI president said the park would transform the industry as a major export earner.

“Bangladesh will be benefited immensely if the park is set up as quickly as possible as the country is now enjoying a special benefit to export drugs to all over the world under a World Trade Organisation (WTO) deal,” the BAPI president said.

The WTO’s Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement signed in 2002 has allowed all the least developed countries (LDCs) to export patent-free drugs to anywhere in the world between 2006 and 2016.

Among the 49 LDCs, Bangladesh has the strongest base to manufacture pharmaceutical products, although the country hardly has any raw material production facilities.

Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) has been assigned to set up the park, an official said, adding the project is expected to be completed by 2011.

The corporation will develop the infrastructure with state-of-the-art facilities including a central effluent treatment plant (ETP) and incinerator for solid and liquid wastes management.

After completion of infrastructure development, a total of 40 industrial plots will be allocated to individual companies for setting up API plants. The park will be operated through a public-private partnership.

“Some 30 drug companies have already applied for plots at the API park. They have the money ready to establish plants”, Shafiuzzaman said.

“The companies will start producing APIs within six months after the government hands over the plots to them,” he said.

A high official of the Drug Administration said the drug companies’ hope to emerge as top export earner entirely hinges on building most modern API production hub.

“It is impossible to be competitive in the international medicine market if a company doesn’t produce its own raw materials. Bangladeshi companies have to invest big in API if they want to have a big slice of the export pie,” he said.

“We will be able to utilize the full potentials of the TRIPS deal if all our plants have backward linkages. Without API, a medicine company is like a garment factory which cuts and sews clothes imported from abroad,” he added.

The country has a total of 164 companies with the top ten controlling more than 70 per cent of the market. Another 68 companies have been registered with the Board of Investment (BoI) but haven’t started operation.