Bangladesh’s medicine exports soared 25.60 percent year-on-year to $130 million last fiscal year thanks to continuous improvement of product quality and government support.
The sector has built up skilled manpower and improved quality and at the same time more effort is being put to win the global market, said Mizanur Rahman Sinha, managing director of ACME Laboratories.
“For this reason, the export volume is increasing. The export figure though is insignificant. But the sector has a good potential in the global market,” he added.
Local players dominate Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical industry. Square Pharmaceuticals is the major player with 18.8 percent share, followed by Incepta at 10.2 percent, Beximco 8.5 percent, Opsonin 5.6 percent, Renata 5.1 percent and Eskayef 4.5 percent, according to the Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceuticals Industries (BAPI).
Multinational companies Sanofi and Novo Nordisk also have significant presence with their specialised products.
According to BAPI, Bangladesh exports pharma products to 144 countries and caters to 97 percent of the domestic market.
In 2017, the per capita consumption of medicine in Bangladesh was about $15.36.
“Foreign buyers are coming in continuously and visiting our factories to examine the quality of products. More often than not they are placing orders,” Sinha said.
Bangladesh mainly exports medicine to Africa and Asia, with some even going to the US and Europe, said Shafiqul Islam, vice-chairman of the Export Promotion Bureau.
“I believe within the next 5 to 10 years, our pharma products will enter the US and EU properly and for this reason EPB is helping the sector.”
Local consumption of medicine is increasing in line with the rise in population and growing awareness on treatment, he said.
Currently, Bangladesh has the ability to produce advanced medicines such as bio-similar drugs, vaccines and oncology products as well as medical devices, said Mohammad Ebadul Karim, managing director of Beacon Pharmaceuticals.
“We do export oncology products to Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Singapore, Malaysia and African countries. But volume is still low -- we should to grab the regulated market to increase the volume,” he added. According to his estimates the market size of the sector is about Tk 22,000 crore.
In 2012, the local market size stood at about Tk 9,390. In 2017, it stood at Tk 18,755.6 crore, according to IMS Health Care Report.
Karim also emphasised on upgrading technology and infrastructure to boost exports and enter regulated markets.
In 2015, the US Food and Drug Administration gave approval to Square Pharmaceuticals and Beximco Pharmaceuticals after inspecting the oral solid dosage facilities of the two companies.
Bangladesh has made commendable progress in pharma sector over the years through policy support from the government, skilled workforce, cost competitiveness, modern infrastructure and cGMP compliance, said Rabbur Reza, chief operating officer at Beximco Pharmaceuticals. The export potential for differentiated products -- such as metered dose inhaler, dry powder inhaler, sterile ophthalmic, injectable -- is high in key emerging and developed markets due to less competition, he added.