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Bangladesh Pharma industry challenges ahead

Wahidur-RahmanAccording to the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA), there are currently 200 active allopathic companies in Bangladesh. About 22,000 brands of drugs are sold which cover 1500 types of medication. There are 1495 wholesale drug license holders and about 37700 retail drug license holders. The industry meets 98% of the demand for medication in the country and can be considered to be self-sufficient. According to IMS Health, annual pharmaceutical sales in the local market may reach BDT 160 billion within 2018.

TRIPs council meeting approved extension of the transition period for pharmaceutical products for least developed countries till 2032. Bangladesh secured additional protection for LDCs, including additional waiver as well as the previous waiver.

The major export destinations for Bangladeshi medicines are Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Kenya, while nearly 50 countries import Bangladeshi medicines regularly. The growth in exports has averaged over 10% from 2010 to 2014. In 2015, the exports were over $ 41.17 million. Pharmaceutical companies are trying to export to regulated, unregulated and moderately regulated markets.

The domestic market is highly concentrated and competitive. The local manufacturers dominate the industry capturing market share of 90%. While the multinationals cater to the remaining demand. According to IMS Health, the top 10 companies hold 68.5% market share, the top 20 hold 85.73%, and the top 31 hold 94.1%, while the remaining 169 companies shared 5.9% among them.


The WTO has granted Least Developed Countries relaxation on intellectual property rights until 2033 and two Bangladesh companies have secured permission from the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) which is a bottle neck marketing scenario for the survival of 169 companies. They must devise strategic business plan to have a major breakthrough for the enhancement of market share for their survival by 2032.

Because after that period we do not know at if least 10 % of total products may fell in this patent protection the prices will be at least 4 times higher than existing. And like India/China we have not developed any mechanism for reverse engineering to get rid from royalty payments. Still we are 96 % import based for API, nor have we developed Drug Testing Lab to match the phrmaco-kinetics/dynamics with the original branded products which is necessary for reverse engineering process being done by India to get waiver from Royalties on patented products. Eventually if we could not developed these sectors than the prospect as a whole may not be as per our expectations.

Wahidur Rahman
B.Sc (DU), MBA (MKtg)
Former CEO of a Pharma Company

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