Pharmaceuticals: the next multi-billion dollar opportunity for Bangladesh


A panel discussion on the subject moderated by the President, AmCham Md. Nurul Islam, was participated by 

● Mr. Kazi M. Aminul Islam, Executive Chairman, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA),
● Mr. Abdul Muktadir, Chairman and Managing Director, Incepta Pharmaceuticals Ltd., and
● Mr. M. Mosaddek Hossain, Managing Director, Unihealth Limited.

The discussion began with a keynote presentation by Mr. Muktadir where he provided multi faced aspect of the Pharmaceutical industry in Bangladesh in detail. It showed after meeting 97 percent of the domestic demand, Bangladesh exports medicinal products to 144 countries which fetched $103.46 million in the last fiscal year, up 16.03 percent year-on-year, according to the Export Promotion Bureau. Currently, Bangladesh has the facilities for producing advanced medicine like active pharmaceuticals ingredients, biosimilars, vaccines, and oncology products alongside medical devices. Bangladesh is capable of producing specialized delivery products like inhalers, pre-filled syringe injections, lyophilized injections, dry-powder inhaler and sustained-release formulations, he said. In the first quarter of 2018, the market size of pharmaceutical products in Bangladesh was $2.35 billion and year-on-year growth rate was 8 percent having per capita consumption of medicine about $15.36.

The country has already developed production facilities for tablets, capsules, liquid preparations, dry suspension, injections, ointment/cream, nasal spray and granules in sachets. Bangladesh has a surplus of pharmaceutical industry-focused human resources, Mr. Muktadir said, adding that the formulation industry is well-developed and investing heavily for future growth. Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical industries aim to capture 10 percent of the global generic market as 5 to 7 companies have received approval from top regulatory bodies, he said, these include the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency and the United States Food and Drug Administration. Bangladesh can emerge as the world’s next big supplier of pharmaceuticals by acting as the ‘India Plus One’ source of low-cost medicines in the global market, Mr. Muktadir also added. He quoted a new study that showed Bangladesh’s pharmaceuticals sector will grow 15 percent year-on-year to reach $5.11 billion by 2023, propelled by high investments by local companies as they seek to grab a bigger share of the global market. By 2022, the market size will be more than doubled to $4.44 billion from $2.02 billion now, it said. “Bangladesh will soon become a major global hub for high quality and low-cost generic medicine and vaccine,” said Mr. Muktadir, chairman and managing director of Incepta.

Speaking as a panel discussant, Kazi M Aminul Islam, executive chairman of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, said Bangladesh needs to develop the knowledge and capacity to grab a bigger share of the global pharmaceutical market. Mr. Islam emphasised on building the capacity of the regulatory entities likes Directorate General of Drug Administration as well as the relevant laws and regulations that govern the manufacturing of pharmaceuticals in the country. “RMG is based on labour. But, pharmaceutical is an industry where quality comes first”, the BIDA chief said. “So, let Bangladesh be known not for the cheapest products but for very quality products”, he added. The other panelist Mr. M Mosaddek Hossain, Managing Director of Unihealth Limited, said “Although, our pharmaceuticals industry is strong in terms of their manufacturing base, it is weak in terms of backward linkage”. “However, the planned establishment of API parks may solve this problem”, he added.

AmCham president Md Nurul Islam said there is multi-billion-dollar export potential for Bangladesh pharma industry. Bangladesh can achieve this target by 2025 if the government continues its cooperation and entrepreneurs of the sector are able to maintain the growth momentum, he added. Mr. Farooq Sobhan, president of the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute, and Mr. Md. Mustafizur Rahman, director general of the Directorate General of Drug Administration, also spoke in the occasion.