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Bangladesh: Are pharma exports falling?Tuesday, February 10, 2015 > 10:43:17
Exports of pharmaceuticals faced setbacks in many years, as backlog in orders weighed on shipment, the government data said.
But a top industry boss saw no reason of decline, insisting that it might be a problem with documentation.
While drug exports posted double-digit growth from 2010 fiscal through 2014, overseas sales began to decline in the last few months, the government data showed.
According to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) data, the sector made $41.17 million worth of shipments, registering a 2.8 per cent decline compared to that of FY'14 mark worth $42.4 million in the first seven months (July-January) of the current financial year (FY'15).
The sector's overall exports had fetched $40.96 million, $44.27 million, $48.25 million, $59.82 million and $69.14 million in the last five consecutive financial years since FY'10 till FY'14 respectively, registering a 15-20 per cent growth on year-on-year basis.
The downturn in the export of medicines and pharmaceutical equipment in recent months is a record since the onset of the global financial crisis, the government said.
The sector of lifesaving products last witnessed a shipment fall in the 2008-9 financial year (FY'09) due to the global economic meltdown, said an official at the EPB.
In FY'09, pharma export fell to $30.5 million while it was $33.0 million in the corresponding period of FY 2007-08, he said.
The target for FY'15 has been set at $73.02 million.
Chief Operating Officer of Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd Rabbur Reza told the FE that backlog in order and supply for last one year might cause export decline.
He said the major destinations for Bangladeshi medicines are now Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Kenya while nearly 50 countries import Bangladeshi pharma products regularly.
The country's medicines now reach more than 90 countries, he said.
The Beximco medicine-maker hopes the sector will make a turnaround within a few months as export orders have increased.
"It took three to six months to deliver products after orders," he said.
Managing Director of Hudson Pharmaceuticals Ltd Md Shafiuzzaman deems a decline in export by some multinational companies (MNCs) behind the shipment fall.
He said a few MNCs export products to their mother countries from their factories in Bangladesh.
He also pointed out that the overall export might fall this FY if the political deadlock continued.
Secretary of Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (BAPI) Abul Muktadir, however, said that pharma export had been tremendous in the last two months and sees no logic for the export fall.
"It might be a mistake in documentation," he said.
Bangladesh is the largest manufacturer of formulation products among the least-developed nations in the Asian region.
With the cooperation of Bangladesh government, leading medicine producers are eyeing medicine markets of European and African continents.
There are about 270 companies in this sector and the approximate total domestic market size is over Tk 150 billion per annum, with about 97 per cent of the total requirement of medicine being met by the local companies.
Of the total pharmaceutical market, local companies are enjoying a market share reaching around 90 per cent, while the multinationals are having a10 per cent share of the medicine-market cake.
Out of the top fifteen pharmaceutical companies in Bangladesh only two are MNCs.