B’Desh pushes biosimilar pharma JVs with Sri Lanka

The Island

21/03/2014

B’Desh pushes biosimilar pharma JVs with Sri Lanka

For the first time, a government to government level cooperation effort is emerging to strengthen the supply of a crucial class of medicines in the $450 Mn Lankan pharma market. Bangladeshi pharma sector, which manufactures no less than 450 generic drugs for 5,300 registered brands, is now ready to partner with Sri Lanka to produce vital medicines used by seriously ill patients.

"Our local pharmaceutical manufacturers cater to 97% of the internal demand and they also export. We are ready to support Sri Lanka to produce biosimilar pharmaceuticals such as insulin and finalise them to finish product levels with a guaranteed cold chain. We are ready for government to government level JVs to begin with" said MN Neaz Uddin (Health Secretary, Bangladesh) on March 20 in Colombo.

Bangladeshi Health Secretary Uddin was addressing Rishad Bathiudeen Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka at EDB premises in Colombo. Bangladeshi Health Secretary Uddin is in Colombo leading a 10 member strong Bangladeshi health sector delegation to the country.

Biosimilar pharmaceutical products such as insulin, growth hormones, and hepatitis B vaccines are used by critically ill patients. It is estimated that this segment consists of around 9% of Sri Lanka’s $450 overall pharmaceutical market. Bangladesh manufactures more than 450 generic drugs for 5,300 registered brands with 8,300 different forms of dosages and strengths. All top ten pharma manufacturers are of Bangladeshi origin without being multinationals, indicating a strong domestic manufacturing base. When it comes to Bangladeshi pharma exports, Beximo Pharmaceuticals is the leader taking for 19% of its $ 70 Mn pharma exports (in 2012). Bangledesh domestic pharma market alone is estimated to be around $ 1.25 Bn.

"Our local pharmaceutical manufacturers cater to 97% of the internal demand and they also export. We are ready to support Sri Lanka to produce biosimilar pharmaceuticals such as insulin and finalise them to finish product levels with a guaranteed cold chain. This is the first time we are looking at government to government level cooperation in pharma sector between both countries. We also invite Sri Lanka to visit and see some of our pharmaceutical manufacturing plants. We have high quality products and we are very competitive in pricing. Pharma joint ventures are a goal in Bangladeshi-Sri Lanka cooperation" said Bangladeshi Health Secretary Uddin, addressing Minister Bathiudeen.

"A government to government level joint venture can also help reduce our pharmaceutical import bill. Your suggestions are interesting and let us discuss terms and products on this with line agencies here. Our Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa is keen to commence a pharmaceutical zone in Sri Lanka and your initiatives can help advance his vision" said Minister Bathiudeen responding to Bangladeshi Health Secretary Uddin, and added: "We are thankful for your invitation to visit your pharma plants of which we will consider favourably."