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A 360° boom in the pharmaceuticals sector

Article - August 21, 2013
Bangladesh’s pharma sector has improved tremendously in recent years: coverage of national demand has jumped from just 10 per cent a decade ago, to 97 per cent today. Companies like Incepta already market their products in more than 40 countries
Since the 1982 Drug Control Ordinance was passed, easing the way for local companies to burgeon, the country’s myriad pharmaceutical firms have been honing their skills whilst providing for about 97 per cent of the domestic need. Despite the domestic market’s enormity (it stands at some £786 million), Bangladeshi pharma manufacturers have set their sights abroad, where further growth is virtually limitless. 

US-trained pharmacist Abdul Muktadir, Managing Director of Incepta Pharmaceuticals Ltd, the country’s second-largest drug company, and Secretary General of Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (BAPI), says that as one of the smallest yet most densely populated places on earth, Bangladesh has no choice but to go outward. This motivation, he says, is what transformed other small nations – such as Japan, South Korea and the UK – into such powerful economies.  
“At the moment, Bangladesh has 10 to 15 companies that can export all over the world. We are now promoting the concept that we should have at least 30 to 50 companies that can supply globally,” he says. With the rising costs of healthcare in the developed world has come the challenge to source cheaper, yet high quality, pharmaceutical products. Consequently, many generic companies are shifting their manufacturing base to emerging nations.

Bangladesh is arguably the most inexpensive source of quality medicine. Indeed, generics manufactured there cost one-tenth of the price of Western drugs, and up to 20 per cent less than those produced in neighbouring India, a country that is receiving more global attention from big players like Pfizer and GSK because Bangladesh is still relatively unknown. 

“We are a fully integrated company that works to
global standards”

Abdul Muktadir,
Managing Director of
Incepta Pharmaceuticals Ltd 
“Large companies have not come to Bangladesh as of yet, but it is going to happen,” asserts Mr Muktadir. Although just 14 years old, Incepta Pharmaceuticals has made a huge mark in the sector by launching 351 generics with a total of 660 presentations. While introducing more than 120 new generics for the first time ever in the local market, Incepta has made available medicines for the poor people in Bangladesh that otherwise were non-existent in the country.

Its wide variety of dosage forms cover nearly all the major therapeutic classes. In fact, Mr Muktadir dubs his firm a 360º pharma company, as it manufactures “human and animal vaccines, animal products, generic medicine, branded generics and API for all similar products and pharmaceutical generics.” He adds, “Once we have all Western approvals, we should be a global leader in healthcare and that should not take much longer.”

Only six years after starting export operations, Incepta already markets its products in more than 40 countries, thanks to its Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certifications from the EU and the UK MHRA, among various others, and has forged marketing partnerships with British generics firms such as Intrapharm Laboratories and Blackrock Pharmaceuticals.
Furthermore, as of 2010, Incepta is a global supplier to UNICEF, UNESCO, UNDP, UNRWA and UNFPA. Whilst Incepta’s products see to people’s health around the world, its corporate social responsibility (CSR) sees to the wellbeing of people at home. The company provides its employees with life insurance and a 5 per cent share of the company’s profits.

Once the company is “very successful”, says Mr Muktadir, it will “plough back everything into society. We’ll plough back money into science and generating knowledge. We’re going to educate people so that they become the best assets of the country.”

Incepta provides employment for a better future

31 year-old Russell has worked for the past eight years in Incepta operating highly technological machinery.

He praises Incepta to be not only a job provider but a ‘future provider’ for his people. “Now I can provide steady income for my family; I can send my children to school for them to have a better future,” says Russell, who receives periodic training to keep up with the latest technological improvements of Incepta’s German and UK machinery. Russell describes Incepta as a well-known company in Savar since it employs many people of the surroundings.