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Pharmaceutical Industry in Bangladesh

Following the Drug (Control) Ordinance of 1982, some of the local pharmaceutical companies improved range and quality of their products considerably. The national companies account for more than 65% of the pharmaceutical business in Bangladesh. However, among the top 20 companies of Bangladesh 6 are multinationals. Almost all the life saving imported products and new innovative molecules are channelled into and marketed in Bangladesh through these companies. Multinational and large national companies generally follow current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) including rigorous quality control of their products. The Drug Act of 1940 and its rules formed the basis of the country's drug legislation. Unani, ayurvedic, homeopathic and biochemic medicines were exempted from control under the legislation. The pharmaceutical industry was dominated by the foreign companies at that time. Even in the allopathic market there were extemporaneous preparations dispensed from retail pharmacies.

The pharmaceutical industry, however, like all other sectors in Bangladesh, was much neglected during Pakistan regime. Most multinational companies had their production facilities in West Pakistan. With the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971, the country inherited a poor base of pharmaceutical industry. For several years after liberation, the government could not increase budgetary allocations for the health sector. 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.

In 1981, there were 166 licensed pharmaceutical manufacturers in the country, but local production was dominated by eight multinational companies (MNCs) which manufactured about 75% of the products. There were 25 medium sized local companies which manufactured 15% of the products and the remaining 10% were produced by other 133 small local companies. All these companies were mainly engaged in formulation out of imported raw materials involving an expenditure of Tk 600 million in foreign exchange. In spite of having 166 local pharmaceutical production units, the country had to spend nearly Tk 300 million on importing finished medicinal products. 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. The value of locally produced medicines rose from Tk 1.1 billion in 1981 to Tk 16.9 billion in 1999. At present, 95% of the total demand of medicinal products is met by local production. Local companies (LCs) increased their share from 25% to 70% on total annual production between 1981 and 2000.

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. Anti-infective is the largest therapeutic class of locally produced medicinal products, distantly followed by antacids and anti-ulcerants.

Other significant therapeutic classes include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), vitamins, central nervous system (CNS) and respiratory products. A most remarkable progress the local industry has made in recent time is the phenomenal increase in the local production of basic chemicals. There are now 13 drug manufacturing units, which also manufacture certain basic materials. These include Paracetamol, Ampicillin Trihydrate, Amoxycillin Trihydrate, Diclofenac Sodium, Aluminium Hydroxide Dried Gel, Dextrose Monohydrate, Hard Gelatin capsule shell, Chloroquine Phosphate, Propranolol Hydrochloride, Benzoyl Metronidazole, Sodium Stibogluconate (Stibatin) and Pyrantel Pamoate. However, most of these are confined to the last stage of synthesis. 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. EDCL produced medicines worth Tk 964 million in 2000. There are separate vaccines and large volume IV fluids production units under the Institute of Public Health (IPH). The productions of both EDCL and IPH are mostly used in government hospitals and institutions. In 2000, there were 261 unani, 161 ayurvedic, 76 homeopathic and biochemic licensed manufacturing units. They produced medicines worth Tk 1.2 billion in 2000.

One of the major positive impacts of Drug (Control) Ordinance is the rapid development of local manufacturing capability. Almost all types of possible dosage forms include tablets, capsules, oral and external liquids (solutions, suspensions, emulsions), ointments, creams, injections (small volume ampoules/dryfill vials/suspensions and large volume IV fluids), and aerosol inhalers are now produced in the country. In recent years, the country has achieved self-sufficiency in large volume parenterals, some quantities of which are also exported to other countries. The development of local manufacturing capability helped contain dependence on the import of pharmaceutical products (raw material and finished product) around pre-1982 level. Under the Drug (Control) Ordinance government fixes the maximum retail prices (MRP) of 117 essential drug chemical substances. Drugs other than these essential ones are priced through a system of indicative prices. This rule applies on the locally manufactured products only. For imported finished products, a fixed percentage of markup is applied on the C&F price to arrive at the MRP, regardless of whether they are within the list of essential 117 molecules or not. It is interesting to note that, even with withdrawal of price control from many products, prices have not shot up; healthy competition has been keeping the prices within affordable levels.

Physical distribution of pharmaceuticals in Bangladesh has evolved in a unique way. Unlike other countries Bangladesh pharmaceutical industry is more retail oriented and bulk of distribution is done by the companies themselves. Pharmaceutical companies distribute their products from their own warehouses located in different parts of the country, as no professional distribution house is available. Wholesalers play a limited role in this regard since companies supply goods to both retailers and wholesalers. Export of pharmaceutical products is still in an infant stage, although a number of private pharmaceutical companies have already entered the export market with their basic materials and finished products. They export their products to Vietnam, Singapore, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Yemen, Oman, Thailand, and some countries of Central Asia and Africa.

The primary responsibility for drug quality control lies with the manufacturers. However, the government's drug testing laboratories (DTL) and the Directorate of Drug Administration (DDA) have the monitoring and supervising role. There are two government drug testing laboratories. DTL at Dhaka is in the Institute of Public Health and the regional DTL at Chittagong is under DDA. Drug administration is responsible for registration of drugs for marketing in Bangladeshand for inspection of premises and licensing. With its present set up and inadequate strength, DDA often finds it difficult to carry out its very large volume of assigned work. The national drug policy and the regulatory control policies are yet to achieve best results for a healthy growth of the pharmaceutical industry. Because of the limited capacity of the government's drug testing laboratories, the quality of products manufactured locally cannot be uniformly ensured. Restrictions on patent rights discourage foreign investors to come up actively in the pharmaceutical market in Bangladesh. Introduction of new research molecules is difficult due to slow registration process and restrictions on patent protection. Although the fixed mark-up system of pricing helped keep the prices of pharmaceutical products low, this made it difficult to cover costs of marketing and distribution. The fixed mark-up system also discourages some companies to invest for cGMP and assurance of high quality production. Some important therapeutic classes of the pharmaceutical market (antacids and oral vitamins) are only open to the local companies even after 20 years of the drug ordinance. This policy is discriminatory and also contrary to the announced investment policy of the government.

The annual per capita drug consumption in Bangladesh is one of the lowest in the world. However, the industry has been a key contributor to the Bangladesh economy since independence. With the development of healthcare infrastructure and increase of health awareness and the purchasing capacity of people, this industry is expected to grow at a higher rate in future. Healthy growth is likely to encourage the pharmaceutical companies to introduce newer drugs and newer research products, while at the same time maintaining a healthy competitiveness in respect of the most essential drugs.

In Bangladesh Pharmaceutical sector is one of the most developed hi tech sector which is contributing in the country's economy. After the promulgation of Drug Control Ordinance - 1982, the development of this sector was accelerated. The professional knowledge, thoughts and innovative ideas of the pharmacists working in this sector are the key factors for these developments. Due to recent development of this sector we are exporting medicines to global market including European market. This sector is also providing 95% of the total medicine requirement of the local market. Leading Pharmaceutical Companies are expanding their business with the aim to expand export market. Recently few new industries have been established with hi tech equipments and professionals which will enhance the strength of this sector.

Dear Brothers,i want to know some information about Pharmaceutical Business. can anyone tell me or give me a refrence to know about Pharmaceutical Business. that how much money need to invest, which process shoud apply apply. please let me know to this mail tajul_islamgp@hotmail.com

thank you