Country’s leading pharmaceutical manufacturers on Saturday said that penetrating overseas markets was a big challenge for Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical sector despite having huge export potential as the sector lacked highly skilled professionals required for the job.
This is the right time to sit with the country’s academicians to upgrade the university curriculums to address the requirements of the industry, they said at the Samson H Chowdhury Memorial Conference on Bangladesh pharmaceutical industry.
Square Pharmaceuticals Limited organised the conference at the Dhaka Club in the capital. Samson H Chowdhury, who died on January 5, 2012, was the founder of Square Group, one of the country’s business conglomerates.
Abdul Muktadir, managing director of Incepta Pharmaceuticals Ltd, presented the keynote paper at one of the sessions of the conference titled ‘Preparedness of Bangladesh pharmaceutical industry for the future potential and challenges’.
He said, ‘The size of the global generic drug market is $112 billion and Bangladesh has unlimited opportunities to penetrate the market.’
In the keynote paper, Muktadir observed that there were 230 pharmaceutical companies in Bangladesh and the firms met 98 per cent of the domestic demand.
Of the 230 firms, only 30 companies meet 95 per cent of the local demand, he said.
According to the presentation, the size of the domestic pharmaceutical market is $2.11 billion and it is growing by 13-15 per cent a year.
Muktadir expected that the local pharmaceutical market would be $5 billion by 2023.
Bangladesh exports medicines to 120 countries but the export volume is very small and it will take time to increase the volume, he said.
Muktadir said that the country’s pharmaceutical sector had been facing an acute shortage of highly skilled professionals to manage the export market.
Brain drain, image crisis, lack of quality education, poor infrastructure and traffic congestion are the other challenges for the pharmaceutical sector in Bangladesh, he said.
Salman F Rahman, vice-chairman of Beximco Group, said that the domestic growth of pharmaceutical sector reflected that Bangladesh’s economy was growing.
‘We are in the domestic market and now we have to go for the global market. If we target $112 billion generic market in the globe, we will need highly qualified human resources,’ he said.
Salman said that Bangladesh got low-cost white-collar professionals in the sector but the sector depended on foreign professionals in managing export market.
He urged the academicians to design the university courses and curriculums in line with the requirements of the industry.
‘We have to have our people to manage the export market but we have huge knowledge gap to keep pace with the regulated markets,’ said Tapan Chowdhury, managing director of Square Pharmaceuticals Limited.
He urged the government to allow payment of foreign bills from the export retention fund for the pharmaceutical sector.
At the conference, two young scientists — Dhaka University associate professors Abul Bashar Mir Mohammad Khademul Islam and Munawara Sultana —were awarded
Samson H Chowdhury awards.
Health minister Mohammed Nasim handed over the awards to the recipients.
At the award giving ceremony, Nasim said that a vested quarter was always engaged in conspiracy to tarnish the reputation of Bangladesh in any sector.
Nasim said that like in the readymade garment sector, a conspiracy was active in the pharmaceutical sector and a quarter was producing substandard and fake medicines to damage the reputation of the sector.
He said that the government would provide all-out support to the pharmaceutical sector for its growth.
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