Beacon Pharmaceuticals, the largest manufacturer of cancer drugs in Bangladesh, will invest Tk 650 crore to set up a new unit to produce oncology medicines in a move that will expand its manufacturing capacity fourfold.
Mohammad Ebadul Karim, managing director of the pharmaceuticals company, said: “We will start the construction of the unit in November and the manufacturing of cancer drugs will begin in next two and a half years.”
“The new unit will expand the manufacturing capacity of anti-cancer drugs of Beacon Pharmaceuticals by four times,” he told The Daily Star.
The unit, to be named Beacon Oncology Ltd, will target the US market and will be a US Food and Drug Administration-compliant facility.
A German engineering company will help design, facilitate and set up machinery, said Karim.
This will be the second oncology unit of Beacon Pharmaceuticals after it set up the country's first such plant at a cost of Tk 130 crore more than a decade ago.
Of the planned investment, 30 percent, or Tk 195 crore, will come in the form of equity while the rest Tk 455 crore will be financed by Janata Bank.
Karim said his company has placed a proposal for the loan after getting the green light from the state-run lender.
The demand for cancer drugs in Bangladesh was about Tk 500 crore last year and the demand is growing by 15 percent on average a year, he said.
Local manufacturers account for 75 percent of the local cancer drug market and the rest is imported. Beacon Pharmaceuticals meets 65 percent of the demand.
Karim said oncology products were beyond the purchasing power of patients in the past, but the prices went down by 40 percent when Beacon Pharmaceuticals started local production maintaining compliance and high standards.
In the last eight years, the pharmaceutical company has manufactured more than 50 oncological drugs and 20 more medicines are in pipeline.
Along with conventional chemotherapy drugs, Beacon manufactures latest oncology products such as monoclonal antibodies, oral targeted therapies, and liposomal technology products.
It also makes many of the supportive drugs required for cancer treatment, such as zoledronic acid, filgrastim and pegfilgrastim injection.
After meeting the local demand, Beacon also exports cancer drugs.