Beacon Pharmaceuticals, a leading medicine exporter, will invest Tk 160 crore to set up a new unit to expand the production of anti-cancer drugs.
The company is putting in an additional Tk 130 crore to start two new units -- oral liquid and cephalosporin (antibiotics).
The oral-liquid unit will begin production in July and the cephalosporin unit in December. The oncology unit will come on stream by the end of 2016 with an annual capacity of producing medicines worth Tk 250 crore, said Mohammad Ebadul Karim, managing director of the company.
With the three new units, the company will have five units with a total capacity of producing medicines worth Tk 750 crore a year.
“We are expanding our production capacity in response to growing demand for anti-cancer medicines in Asian, African and Latin American markets.”
Beacon, the first local anti-cancer medicine exporter, sells products to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal, the Philippines, Uzbekistan and Ghana, Karim said.
“We are receiving very good responses from Asian markets.”
The company exported more than Tk 9 crore of medicines last year, registering around 100 percent growth, compared to the previous year. Of the exported products, 85 percent were oncology items.
Beacon that began exports in 2012 produces 62 oncology products. “We have set a target to export products worth more than Tk 15 crore this year.”
The company accounts for 40 percent of the anti-cancer medicine sales in the local market, followed by Roche Bangladesh, the local arm of the Swiss healthcare company.
“We are selling some anti-cancer medicines at prices that are a tenth of the price of foreign companies,” Karim said.
The locally produced anti-cancer medicines are at least 30 percent cheaper than imported ones, he added.
The company's annual turnover stood at Tk 225 crore last year.
The company's shares traded between Tk 16.5 and Tk 17 to finally close at Tk 17 yesterday, according to Dhaka Stock Exchange.
The anti-cancer drug market in Bangladesh is growing at 20 percent a year due to an alarming rise in cancer patients.
Locally-produced drugs are meeting 86 percent of the country's demand, while the remaining 14 percent is met through imports, according to Intercontinental Marketing Services, an international research firm. The number of cancer patients is growing in Bangladesh due to adulterated food and a polluted environment, according to the company.
In 2012, 15 lakh people were diagnosed with cancer, up from 12 lakh a year ago, according to the National Institute of Cancer Research and Hospital.