Robust growth in pharma sector


The pharmaceutical industry displayed a phenomenal growth over the last decade, and the country’s market size of the sector stood at almost Tk 25,000crore, industry insiders said.

This sector has provided more than 98 percent of the total medicinal requirements of the local market, they mentioned.

After meeting the local demand, various types of medicine were exported to more than 150 countries including the countries in Asia, Europe and Africa, they added.

Pharmaceutical companies are expanding their business with the aim to expand the export market, they further said.

Export earnings from this sector stood at $136 million in fiscal 2019-20 following improvements in product quality and policy support.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic, export earnings in the sector increased by 13 percent to $96.84 million during July-January in the current fiscal.

Md Ayub Hossain, Director of the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) told Bangladesh Post, the pharmaceutical sector is playing a significant role in boosting the country’s economy.

The Pharma Industry is paying the second highest revenue to the government exchequer, he said.

This sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country and pharmaceutical products became ‘product of the year’ in 2018, he said adding that the government has extended all kinds of support to make the sector grow.

The sector has recently grown fast due to favourable policies for easy drug approval, production and marketing of new products.

Bangladesh Pharmaceutical Industry is now heading towards self-sufficiency in pharmaceuticals, he added.

Local companies are investing and developing dedicated facilities for specialized drugs for treating diseases such as cancer, he said.

The government is focusing on reducing the country's dependence on the import of raw materials, Hossain said adding that the establishment of an Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API) Park will act as a turning point for this purpose.

SM Shafiuzzaman, secretary-general of the Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (BAPI), said the local pharmaceutical companies are improving fast as they are investing more in research and development.

On the other hand, this sector is flourishing rapidly for the availability of workforce, he mentioned.

“Bangladesh’s export earnings from this sector are gradually rising as the country’s pharmaceutical products have always maintained global standards,” he mentioned.

Bangladesh manufactured the same quality between original products and the generic products, he added.

Monjurul Alam, director of Beacon Pharmaceuticals, said the country’s pharmaceutical products have a global image.

The quality of medicines is better than that of other developing nations.

The country’s export earnings from this sector has increased rapidly as the products are more affordable compared to those of other medicine manufacturing nations including India and Egypt for advantages of low-priced labour cost.

“On the other hand, the purchasing power of Bangladeshis has increased and chronic diseases are increasing, which has triggered the domestic market to boom for several years,” he mentioned.

Bangladeshis spend around Tk 17,000 crore abroad annually for medical treatment, which is 1.94 percent of the country's GDP, experts said.

The demand for healthcare services has increased by 21 percent annually due to rising purchasing power of the growing middle and upper-middle classes, they added.

Mahmudur Rahman (32), a private job holder, told Bangladesh Post, “I used to buy medicines for my family at the cost of Tk 500 every month since 10 years ago.”

Now, they purchase medicines at the cost of almost Tk 3,000 per month, he added.

The pharmaceutical sector has been witnessing excellent growth in recent years and it is expected to have a compound annual growth rate of more than 12 percent during the 2019-2025 period, the market experts said.

The pharmaceutical market of Bangladesh is expected to surpass Tk 50,000 crore by 2025 as the country’s market size of this sector stood at almost Tk 25,000 crore till September 2020, they said.

Bangladesh has a total of 257 registered pharmaceutical companies and around 150 companies functioning in the market, according to BAPI data.

Bangladesh manufactures more than 450 generic drugs for 5,300 registered brands, which have 8,300 different forms of dosages and strengths.

Square Pharmaceuticals, the largest drug manufacturer of the country, retained its top position out of 200-plus drug makers, up nearly 17 percent market share to nearly Tk. 4160 crore in the industry at the end of September 2020.

It was followed by Incepta (Tk 2,840 crore), Beximco Pharmaceuticals (Tk 2,140 crore), Healthcare Pharmaceuticals Limited (Tk 1540 crore), and Opsonin Pharma.

Dr Muniruddin Ahmed, professor and head of Pharmacy department of Dhaka University, told Bangladesh Post, the government should ensure quality medicines in the market.

Recently, most of the doctors allegedly prescribed medicines as per contract with pharmaceutical companies by getting benefits from them which created a bad competition in the market, he added.

The government should create skilled  persons  to ensure quality products, he said, adding that, the authorities concerned in this sector should place more emphasis on research for developing the sector.