Pharma industry set for expansion | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, August 23, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, August 23, 2009

Pharma industry set for expansion

A salesman is seen at a drugstore in Dhaka yesterday. Local demand for pharmaceutical products is expected to double by 2015, industry leaders say. Photo: STAR

Leading pharmaceutical companies are set to expand operations to meet local demand that industry insiders expect to double by 2015.
Eight in top 10 revenue earners of 2008 have laid out plans to increase production capacities. Industry leaders said greater public health awareness and investments boosted the sector, setting a new benchmark for turnover every year.
“Demand for pharmaceutical products in the domestic market is fast rising and this prompted us to go for expansion," said Mizanur Rahman Sinha, managing director of Acme Laboratories Ltd. “I believe the local market for pharmaceuticals will double by 2015.”
“At the same time, we have to meet the Current Good Manufacturing Practices (CGMP) criteria, set by the World Health Organisation (WHO). With our present infrastructure, it is not possible to ensure international standards of compliance. So, we are going to set up a bigger and better factory to meet requirements,” he added.
Pharmaceutical and biotech firms have to follow the CGMP to ensure that products meet specific requirements for identity, strength, quality and purity.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, the CGMP must be rigorously applied as products move forward in development.
Acme began work on its new Tk 215 crore manufacturing unit in 2008. Of the total funds, Tk 130 crore will come in the form of a syndicated loan, with Standard Chartered Bank as the lead arranger.
“We have already completed 60 percent of the work and we hope to begin operations by June 2010,” Sinha told The Daily Star.
Located in Dhamrai, Acme Specialised Pharmaceuticals Ltd will produce anti-cancer and anti-AIDS drugs, the market for which is now almost fully dependent on imports, in addition to other drugs.
A few local companies are now making cancer-resistant drugs at a time when cancer patients are on the rise in Bangladesh, according to industry people.
“This new unit will help enhance supply to both local and international markets by more than 20 percent from the first year of production,” said the Acme boss.
In fiscal 2008-09, Acme Laboratories, a leading medicine maker, recorded domestic sales worth Tk 400 crore, while it posted $1.2 million in exports.
Square Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a company with a 20 percent market share, is also undertaking massive expansion plans.
Ahmed Kamrul Alam, assistant general manager of Square Pharmaceuticals Ltd, said the main reason behind expansion is to gradually meet increasing local demand.
“In the past decades, health consciousness rose manifold, which also increased family expenditure on health care,” he said. “At the same time, an access to high-quality medicines widened for ordinary people.”
“In addition, we are expanding operations as our exports have grown."
Square started work early this year on its Tk 500 crore manufacturing unit in Kaliakoir, just north of Dhaka. The first phase of construction will end by 2012. From then on, it will be able to increase output.
“We hope to complete the first phase of work by 2012. The complete expansion project would end by 2016,” said Alam. “We are to manufacture anti-cancer drugs and other pharmaceutical products in the new factory."
Advanced Chemical Industries Ltd (ACI) is also to join the race to expand operations.
M Mohibuz Zaman, chief operating officer of ACI, said expansion was essential for the company to meet the CGMP.
The new factory worth around Tk 60 crore in Narayanganj is expected to start off by 2010. The annual turnover of the company was Tk 736.5 crore in 2008.
“The new factory would produce medicine solely for the domestic market,” said Zaman.
Eskayef Bangladesh Ltd, a leading pharmaceutical company in the country, completed work on its new factory.
“We completed work on our new plant that was commissioned by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) of UK in August 2008,” said AM Faruque, managing director of Eskayef. "The company ensures a 'state-of-the-art' facility for its manufacturing unit."
Eskayef is the third company to obtain the MHRA certification, after Square Pharma and Renata.
Faruque, who believes the market will grow by nearly 15 percent in 2009, said sales reached $60 million in 2008 and the company plans to raise exports to $5 million in 2009 from $3 million a year ago. Eskayef has been growing at a rate of 30 percent for years.
The market size of the pharmaceutical industry currently stands at Tk 20,000 crore, said industry insiders. There are 250 small, medium and large local and multinational pharmaceutical companies operating in Bangladesh.
According to Intercontinental Marketing Services (IMS), a global pharmaceutical market intelligence agency, Eskayef, Renata, ACI and Drug International posted the best growth results among the top 10 companies in Bangladesh in 2008, while Square, Beximco, Incepta, Acme, Aristopharma, and Sanofi Aventis are other players that performed well.
Of the 250 companies, the top 10 -- Square, Beximco, Eskayef, Incepta, Acme, ACI, Opsonin, Renata, Aristopharma and Drug International -- take up nearly 70 percent of the total market, according to the IMS 2008 survey.

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