The recent developments of this sector has enabled Bangladesh to export medicines to global markets including the European market. This sector is also providing 95 per cent of the total medicine requirement of the local market. Pharma leaders in the country are beefing up their business activities with the aim to expand export market. Recently a few new industries have also been established with hi-tech equipment and professionals which will enhance the strength of this sector.
Having more than a couple of hundred manufacturing facilities with huge potential in pharmaceutical formulations, Bangladesh is treading on a new path of industry economics for self-reliance. With a view to minimizing the import dependency on basic drugs, the country is building up its own capability in the manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients(APIs), base materials and other allied industry inputs.
In the last two decades,pharmaceutical industry in Bangladesh has grown at a considerable rate. This has also supported the development of auxiliary industries for producing glass bottles, plastic containers, aluminium collapsible tubes, aluminium PP caps, infusion sets, disposable syringes, and corrugated cartons. Some of these products are also being exported. Printing and packaging industries and even the advertising agencies consider pharmaceutical industry as their major clients and a key driving force for their growth.
The pharma sector has created job opportunities for highly qualified people. Many of the leading entrepreneurs of today had started with pharmaceutical companies in the country. Pharmaceutical companies are either directly or indirectly contributing largely towards raising the standard of healthcare through enabling local healthcare personnel to gain access to newer products and also to latest drug information. The recent developments of this sector has enabled the country to export medicines to global market including the European market. This sector is also providing 95 per cent of the total medicine requirement of the local market. With a view to expanding export market,leading pharmaceutical companies are expanding their business market.
Many of the local pharmaceutical companies improved range and quality of their products considerably after the Drug (Control) Ordinance of 1982. Domestic companies account for more than 65 per cent of the pharmaceutical business in Bangladesh. However, among the top 20 companies of Bangladesh, six are multinationals. Almost all the life saving imported products and new innovative molecules are channeled into and marketed in Bangladesh through these companies.
During Pakistan regime, the pharmaceutical industry like all other sectors in Bangladesh, was much neglected. Most multinational companies had their production facilities in West Pakistan.
The country had inherited a poor base of pharmaceutical industry at the time of the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971.The government could not increase budgetary allocations for the health sector for several years after liberation. Millions of people had little access to essential life saving medicines. With the promulgation of the Drug (Control) Ordinance of 1982 many medicinal products considered harmful, useless or unnecessary got removed from the market allowing availability of essential drugs to increase at all levels of the healthcare system. Increased competition helped maintain prices of selected essential drugs at the minimum and affordable level.
Though there were 166 licensed pharmaceutical manufacturers in the country in 1981, local production was dominated by eight multinational companies (MNCs) which manufactured about 75 per cent of the products. There were 25 medium sized local companies which manufactured 15 per cent of the products and the remaining 10 per cent were produced by other 133 small local companies. All these companies were mainly engaged in formulation out of imported raw materials. A positive impact of the Drug (Control) Ordinance of 1982 was that the limited available foreign currency was exclusively utilised for import of pharmaceutical raw materials and finished drugs, which are not produced in the country.
Between 1981 and 2000 local companies (LCs) increased their share from 25 per cent to 70 per cent on total annual production. In 2000, there were 210 licensed allopathic drug-manufacturing units in the country, out of which only 173 were on active production; others were either closed down on their own or suspended by the licensing authority for drugs due to non compliance to GMP or drug laws. They manufactured about 5,600 brands of medicines in different dosage forms. There were, however, 1,495 wholesale drug license holders and about 37,700 retail drug license holders in Bangladesh.
The phenomenal increase in the local production of basic chemicals is the most important progress the local industry has made in recent time. There are now 13 drug manufacturing units, which also manufacture certain basic materials. There are three public sector drug manufacturing units. Two of them are the Dhaka and Bogra units of Essential Drug Company Ltd. (EDCL), which is functioning as a public limited company under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.