The country's export earning from pharmaceutical sector has marked a significant rise in the recent years following its growing capacity and access to new destinations.
Local pharmaceutical companies brought in US$163.83 million in July-April period of the current fiscal year (FY), 2021-22, which was nearly 27 per cent higher than the amount in the corresponding period, according to available data of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).
Official figures revealed that Bangladesh's pharma companies fetched $169.02 million in the FY 2020-21, and $135.79 million in the FY 2019-20, showing a strong growth trajectory. The sector also earned $129.95 million in the FY 2018-19, and $103.46 million in the FY 2017-18.
Sources said the significant growth in the recent times has been possible due to an increased demand for COVID-related drugs from the country.
Growing demand for anti-viral drugs, like Remdesivir and Favipiravir - used to treat COVID patients, has expanded the export basket of the local pharma sector, sources said.
According to the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA), Bangladesh has been one of the leading exporters of Remdesivir in the world.
Bangladesh is enjoying several trade facilities, like duty-free access to international market for its drugs, and patent waiver on manufacturing generic items, the sources added.
When contacted, Managing Director of One Pharma KSM Mostafizur Rahman said drug making has been a strong aspect for Bangladesh's export basket.
"The world is now well aware of the possibilities of local pharmaceutical companies, as Bangladesh is now exporting drugs to around 160 countries after meeting almost 98 per cent of the local demand."
He also said the time-befitting measures taken by the government have also helped the sector expand its international market amid the pandemic.
"Unlike many other sectors, the pharmaceuticals sector has drawn attention of the international buyers."
In addition to the regular items, export of the drugs related to the treatment of coronavirus soared in the recent times, he added.
According to industry insiders, more than 20 Bangladeshi companies, including Incepta, Beacon, Square, Popular, Eskayef, Beximco, Opsonin, ACI, Renata, and Ziska, exported COVID drugs.
Sources said the local pharmaceutical industry has grown to about $3.0 billion as of June 2020 - from about $25 million in 1982. It is likely to exceed $6.0 billion by 2025 - following rise in purchasing power of the domestic population.
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