Bangladesh's drug industry meets nearly all domestic demand, eyes exports

Bangladesh's pharmaceuticals industry has become a $1.5 billion business producing 97% of the nation's consumption, but it has a long way to go in various segments including exports, according to Shawkat Haider, general manager of Beximco Pharmaceuticals.

In a review of the local industry, Haider said shortcomings are evident in exporting, attracting venture capital, in contract manufacturing and in collaborations with academia in areas such as biosimilars. In his review in the Dhaka Tribune, he offered suggestions on how improvement in those areas could be made.

Still, he said, the industry is exporting to many countries and meeting their standards, the highest in the world in Australia, Europe and the United States. The potential of exports is a government focus and the industry offers a chance for Bangladesh to become less reliant on ready-made garments for exports.

The garment industry accounts for 82 percent of the nation's exports, now valued at more than $25 billion. In the near future, Bangladesh hopes to rival its neighbor to the west, India, which exports $15 billion worth of drugs each year, about the same as its domestic sales. Haider said 40 percent of Indian drug exports are to the United States.

One area of great need in the pharma industry, he said, was building the infrastructure needed to improve its ability to develop its skills in synthetic chemistry to make its own active pharmaceutical ingredients. This would help drug makers take advantage of the explosion in demand for generics.

- read the Dhaka Tribune's report