Bangladesh represents a “huge opportunity” to pharma, according to the CEO of Amreteck Pharma who believes that CMOs will be attracted by the low costs, which undercut China, and help the industry grow to $10bn (€6.9m) in 10 years.
Speaking to Outsourcing-Pharma M Chowdhury, founder and CEO of Amreteck, explained that Bangladesh’s educated pharma workforce and costs that undercut India and China will attract multinationals and contract manufacturing organisations (CMO).
Companies including Roche and Sanofi-Aventis already have operations in Bangladesh, which is also home to 260 local pharma businesses. These local companies are growing at 20 per cent a year, according to Chowdhury, but there are concerns over the quality of medicines produced.
There is a lack of pharma production expertise in the country and good manufacturing practice (GMP) consultancy firms are expensive. To fill this void Chowdhury, who is from Bangladesh but is western educated and has worked at numerous pharmas, established Amreteck.
Chowdhury explained that Amreteck offers multiple services, at affordable prices, to help Bangladeshi companies improve understanding of the manufacturing process and reduce human error.
This covers the establishment of quality systems for all aspects of production, from raw materials through to final packaging. Amreteck then validates the operations.
Chowdhury intends to establish an office in Bangaldesh next year. In addition to running the Bangaldeshi operations the office will also support Amreteck’s activities in India and China.
Bangladesh’s status as a less economically developed country (LDC) allows it to manufacture therapeutics covered by active patents. This has enabled companies to export patent protected products to countries in Africa.
Chowdhury explained that the top five Bangladeshi pharma companies account for most of the exports, and also have better quality controls, but there are opportunities for growth.
The exemption from patent protection is due to expire in 2016. In preparation some companies have begun to invest in R&D but, Chowdhury explained, they lack an understanding of international protocols and regulations, for instance investigational new drug (IND) applications.
Consequently, Amreteck will also provide services to help Bangladeshi companies with regulatory processes.