In Bangladesh Pharmaceutical sector is one of the most developed hi tech sector which is contributing in the country's economy. After the promulgation of Drug Control Ordinance - 1982, the development of this sector was accelerated. The professional knowledge, thoughts and innovative ideas of the pharmacists working in this sector are the key factors for this developments. Due to recent development of this sector we are exporting medicines to global market including European market. This sector is also providing 95% of the total medicine requirement of the local market. Leading Pharmaceutical Companies are expanding their business with the aim to expand export market. Recently few new industries have been established with hi tech equipments and professionals which will enhance the strength of this sector.

Bangladesh, currently having more than a couple of hundred manufacturing facilities with huge potential in pharmaceutical formulations, is heading on a new path of industry economics for self-reliance. Aiming at minimizing the import dependency on basic drugs, the country's prime concern is about building up of own capability in the manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients(APIs), base materials and other allied industry inputs.

In the diagram we see that pharmaceutical sector is capturing near about 12% of market capitalization which is the second largest. This position also indicates the positive sign for investment in pharmaceutical sector.       

The combined capacity of the industry for the pharmaceutical formulation is huge and a number of companies have recently got approval from UNICEF as its global as well as local supplier of pharmaceutical products.

Besides, out of the total domestic requirement of medicines almost 95 per cent is met by the local manufacturing and Bangladesh also exports formulations to 27 countries around the world. The current turnover of the industry in Bangladesh is Tk. 3,000 crore. According to industry sources, the formulation industry in Bangladesh currently grows at the rate of 22 per cent. With this estimate, the expected business in year 2005 is 50,000 million Tk. Today, Bangladesh is dealing with USA, India, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, European Union, Singapore, Malaysia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Bhutan, Nepal, Yemen, Mauritius, Vietnam, Kampuchea, Laos, Mexico, Columbia, Ecuador, Kuraso Russia, Uzbekistan, Tazakistan, Kenya, Tunisia, Maldives, etc. as well as with the least developing countries where there is hardly any industry for the production of pharmaceutical formulations.

Turnover from pharmaceutical sector is encouraging which is about 14% of total industry turnover is. This position also indicates the positive sign for investment in pharmaceutical sector.

Though the country has all the potential to become a major global source of APIs and will also be able to produce drugs, which are still under patent protection, as the TRIPS Council meet at Doha has declared the least developed country (LDC) status to remain without patent regime till 2016, it needs active participation and contribution from local as well as foreign companies to build upon the capability.

However, the trend now seems to be favorable to the country as the domestic pharmaceutical industry as well as the companies from neighboring countries like India, China and even MNCs have queued up to put in investments on this front as every stakeholder will benefit of vast potential that Bangladesh can offer. The local entrepreneurs are capable and willing to invest and collaborate with suitable foreign partners in order to develop the existing API manufacturing facilities.

According to S M Shafiuzzaman, president, Bangladesh Aushad Shilpa Samity (Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries - BAPI), since 1972 the Association has been the only recognized association for pharmaceutical manufacturers in Bangladesh playing pivotal role in the development of pharmaceutical sector. BAPI, as the apex and premier pharmaceutical trade and promotion body of Bangladesh, has been very actively working on the industry development programs to enhance the existing capabilities and also to promote the country's industrial opportunities among the developed world by attract prospective collaborators in terms of technology, product sourcing, infrastructure etc.

Presently top pharmaceutical companies in Bangladesh are also in the process of getting into bulk drug production with collaborative technology, technology transfers and joint venture basis. The large-scale players in the Bangladesh pharmaceutical industry currently include Square Pharma, Beximco, Alma, Apson Chemicals, FEI, Araneta, General Pharma, Hudson Pharma and SKF among others. The MNCs that have a major presence in the country's pharma sector are Aventis, Pfizer, Novartis and Astra Zeneca.