Made in Bangladesh: contraceptives | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 01, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 01, 2011

Healthy Profits

Made in Bangladesh: contraceptives

Kadrul Huda

Essential Drugs Company Ltd (EDCL) has taken bold steps to produce contraceptives in Bangladesh, aiming to control the country's population and save money on import of the item.
EDCL has been manufacturing condoms at its Khulna Essential Latex Plant (KELP) since the second half of 2010. For now, the Directorate General of Family Planning is the sole consumer of the factory's total output.
The company has supplied the Family Planning Directorate condoms worth Tk 5 crore in the second half of 2009-10 and Tk 30 crore in 2010-11.
“We will be able to export condoms after meeting domestic demand in one year,” said Kadrul Huda, managing director and chief executive of the company.
Latex is a liquid composed of rubber particles dispersed in water. This material is whipped with air to form foam, which is heated to produce foam rubber, or latex.
Bangladesh is a country of over 16 crore. Before the EDCL initiative, the country relied on imports. According to market players, the country has an annual demand of 300 crore condoms. Dozens of brands of condoms (imported ones) are available in the market.
“There is a huge demand for the product. Private sector companies also want the item from us, but we cannot supply to them now,” said the chief executive.
To meet growing demand, he said KELP would increase its capacity to form the fourth production line soon, to take its annual production capacity to 25 crore pieces a year from 17 crore pieces at present.
Huda has also decided to make hand gloves at KELP. Hand gloves are now fully imported. The use of hand gloves is rising rapidly with more hospitals, clinics, laboratories, and universities being established in the country.
EDCL has not stopped at manufacturing condoms alone; it has initiated the Essential Latex Processing Plant to use locally developed raw materials. The plant has been set up at Madhupur in the Tangail district.
“We have built the physical infrastructure, some machines have also been installed,” said Huda, the architect behind expansion of the government enterprise.
He hopes to start production there in a few months.
Large sums of money will be saved from in raw material imports, he added. In addition, the by-products will be used in shoe and tyre making.
EDCL has taken another move to produce contraceptives -- from pills to birth control injections -- at its proposed plant in Gopalganj district. The government spends nearly Tk 250 crore to import these items, according to the EDCL boss.
“Success does not come easy. Spending and concentration on research and development has paid off for us,” said Huda.

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