Bangladesh again noted for dominant domestic drug manufacture

Bangladesh, about the geographic size of Iowa, could soon be independent of the rest of the world when it comes to supplying medicines to its dense population of 166 million people, about half that of all of the United States.

As the rest of the world focused on their own pharmaceutical industries and those of obvious competitors, Bangladesh slowly built an industry that now supplies nearly 97% of its local market worth $2 billion.

The nation's second-largest drugmaker, Incepta, is even ready to begin selling its wares abroad, along with other large Bangladesh-based drugmakers.

Chairman Abdul Muktadir, suggested they may have to if they want growth. He said he expects local makers to be supplying all of the country's needs in the near future, leaving exports the only room for expansion.

Xinhua, China's state-run news agency, reports that Bangladesh takes pride in making pharmaceuticals that are affordable even by its large poor population. That was a dramatic change from the early decades after the country, then known as East Pakistan, the other part 1,000 miles away, became a separate country in 1971.

But, multinational drugmakers that would like to be in the market feel Bangladesh has been successful in the goals by riding their backs.

A thorn in their collective side has been the local industry's freedom to reverse engineer and make generics of innovative drugs supposedly still under patent protection.

The Bangladesh practice even has the sanction of the trade-related intellectual property rights (TRIPS) portion of the World Trade Organization rules, but that right is set to expire in 2032.

Even that deadline is being fought by the local industry.

At least one development organization believes drug prices are still too high and should be made ultra-affordable along with other health services to get help to remote parts of the nation.

- here's the story from Xinhua