Major drug makers pull in bigger profits

Bangladesh's leading listed pharmaceutical companies have bagged higher profits in the first half of the current financial year which began in July 2020, a result of people starting to see doctors again.

Despite the November to January period being a slow season from the usual business perspective, there was a year-on-year jump in profit growth in the six months.

Profits rose for all six drug makers who have published their financial reports.

For Square Pharmaceuticals, it was 12.79 per cent to Tk 776 crore. It had also witnessed higher profits in the preceding six months amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The drug maker's profit was 31 per cent of its turnover in the past six months till December. It was 28 per cent in fiscal 2019-20 and 27 per cent in the year before.

With doctor's practices opening and patients starting to come over, pharmaceutical companies are doing well, said M Mohibuz Zaman, chief operating officer of ACI Pharmaceuticals.

ACI Pharmaceuticals is doing its business at a normal growth rate and in the last half year it was 9 per cent, he said.

Despite business cycle tending to be slow in the October to January period, the pharmaceutical companies have done well this year, he said.

This is because many patients refrained from going over to the doctors' chambers during the first few months of the pandemic, Zaman said, adding that the December to January period undergoes a massive business slowdown for the drug makers.

Due to it being the cold season and harvesting period, people cut back on going to the doctors, he clarified.

Md Jubayer Alam, company secretary of Renata, echoed the same, saying that doctors had not promptly started running their practices soon after the general leave was lifted at the end of May.

Their medical facilities started running full-fledged in the second half of the year and then demand for medicine jumped up, he said.

"This is natural," he added.

Pharmaceutical business goes slightly slow in the October-December period which is a trend, Alam said. However, the profit rose this year for a higher presence of people in doctors' practices, he added.

Renata's profit grew by 15 per cent to Tk 241 crore in the last half of 2020 compared to the same period the previous year.

Beximco Pharmaceuticals' profits rose 29 per cent to Tk 222 crore while for Acme Laboratories it was 2.59 per cent higher to Tk 79 crore.

Profit of Ibn Sina grew 9.6 per cent to Tk 25 crore.

The ACI has many subsidiaries including ACI Pharmaceuticals. It witnessed profits in the first half of the current financial year after incurring losses in the previous half year thanks to a fall in net finance costs.

The conglomerate booked profits of Tk 16 crore in the last July to December period while it incurred a loss of Tk 81.87 crore in the same period the previous year.

"Our pharmaceuticals segment was profitable though the group witnessed some losses in the recent quarter," said Pradip Kar Chowdhury, chief financial officer of ACI.

The pharmaceutical company witnessed normal growth in the last six months, he said adding the group booked profits for mainly three reasons.

One of them is lower finance costs, which resulted from a decrease in interest rate in the banking sector, he said.

Its net finance costs dropped 19.5 per cent to Tk 179.36 crore.

"Cost control and higher sales also influenced our profits," he said.

The company's revenue rose 11.71 per cent to Tk 3,737 crore in the first half of the financial year.

"The higher sales is a result of motivational steps as we didn't cut salaries but instead increased them," Chowdhury added. 


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