Asia Pharma Expo 2023

Strengthening Bangladesh pharma capabilities

The 14th Asia Pharma Expo 2023 (APE 2023) and Asia Lab Expo 2023, international exhibitions on complete pharma manufacturing technologies were held from March 2 to 4, 2023, at ICCB, Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The exhibition celebrated 21 highly successful years in Bangladesh, helping to develop the pharmaceutical industry of Bangladesh and making significant contribution to Bangladesh economy.

Mr Nazmul Hassan, the President of the Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (BAPI) and CEO of Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd (BPL) inaugurated the event. Director General of Drug Administration (DGDA) Major General Mohammad Yousuf was the Special Guest. Mr Ravi Uday Bhaskar, Director General, PHARMEXCIL was the Guest of Honour alongside the high officials from various pharma companies.

In his inaugural ceremony speech, Mr Nazmul Hassan said: “The price of medicine hasn’t gone up that much when compared to our production expenses. Besides, you cannot just hike up the prices of medicine as we have to take into consideration people’s purchasing power. So we all have to work together to provide quality medicines at low prices in such difficult times. Sri Lanka and Pakistan are suffering from a shortage of drugs. Bangladesh is in a much better situation than them. By working together, we will be able to overcome this difficult situation. Despite the tough times, the pharma industry grew by 12-15% last year. We are trying to ensure that there is no shortage in the supply of medicines.”

Major General Mohammad Yousuf, DG of the Directorate General of Drug Administration, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, attending the event as the Special Guest, informed: “Providing drugs at low cost is a big challenge for us now. Despite the increase in material prices, the price of medicines has not gone up that much.”

Echoing the same, BAPI Vice President Mr A. Mukadir said: “We need to increase our exports to save foreign exchange. Also if API raw materials are produced locally, we will be able to save more and we are going towards that direction.”

Mr Marcel Menhorn (Area Sales Manager), Bausch+Ströbel SE+Co. KG, Germany; Mr. Oliver Patat (Regional Sales Director) TEREOS, France; Mr PH Vachhrajani (Sr Vice President) Cadmach Machinery Co. Pvt. Ltd., India; Mr Luca Cevenini (Area Manager) Marchesini Group S.p.A., Italy – some of the international exhibitors – shared their views during the opening ceremony, and recognized the importance and promising future growth of the Bangladesh pharma manufacturing industry.

Organisers informed that high-speed machinery, latest innovations, newer technologies and export-oriented production machinery were the main attractions for the trade visitors.

The major attraction at the exhibition was the Innovation Pavilion, where UAE based company – PodTech Lifecare displayed plug-and-play pre-engineered, pre-fabricated, pre-validated portable biopharma factory systems which help swiftly scaling up local pharmaceutical manufacturing to guarantee the affordability and availability of essential medicines.

Mr Aasif Ahsan Khan, founder of PodTech Lifecare & G7 Universal, a UAE-based entity, said: “We’re making this tech affordable and accessible to anyone looking to rapidly build or scale biopharma manufacturing capability.” He lauded BAPI’s proactive role in helping the pharmaceutical industry grow faster. More trained and skilled manpower should be built up to uplift the industry, he added.

Mr Isa Khan, Associate Director of Saka International who had the largest pavilion in the Expo, informed that among their 27 partners, two companies from Italy and UAE exhibited in 2023 for the first time in Asia Pharma Expo. “They show interest to participate in the expo next year seeing a huge potential of the drug market in Bangladesh.”

Mr Ingo H Kusel, Area Sales Manager of German company LB BOHLE, shared his experience : “For the pharma sector in Bangladesh, the good sign is that their demand for the products has shifted to quality machines. Demands are showing that the clients in Bangladesh are focusing on exports as their future plan. But there is a crisis, not only for Bangladesh, but also for the global ones, so the country needs to find a way so that the growth of the sector could not be halted.”

One of the co-organisers, Mr Paresh Jhurmarvala, GPE Expo Pvt Ltd, said that all the foreign exhibitors expressed their satisfaction with a huge response from the visitors. “Over 12,000 people have visited the expo. It ushers in new hope as the whole world is now recovering from the Covid-19 crisis. Bangladesh’s pharma sector is getting recognised worldwide and more companies want to participate in the expo.”

At Asia Pharma Expo 2023 / Asia Lab Expo 2023, more than 658 exhibiting companies from 32 countries, including the USA, Germany, France, Singapore, The Netherlands, China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, India, UAE, Vietnam, and South Korea took part in the exposition and showcased various products, including technology, parts and machines and raw materials and their latest products / services to upgrade the pharma manufacturing standards of Bangladesh to a newer height. The 2023 edition was attended by more than 12,000 trade visitors to explore the complete spectrum of latest pharma manufacturing technologies and services.

These international exhibitions are jointly organized by the Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries and GPE Expo Pvt Ltd at Dhaka, Bangladesh, since 2003, offering an unparalleled international business and technologies platform specifically to the entrepreneurs and the corporate giants manufacturing and exporting the pharma medicines globally. The exhibitions are nurturing the growth by empowering the local pharma and allied manufacturing industries on technological aspects to scale up the manufacturing practices. An overwhelming response by the local business associates as well technology solution providers from outside Bangladesh was noticed.

Bangladesh pharma manufacturing industry

The pharmaceutical sector of Bangladesh is progressing in multifold. Apart from meeting the domestic demands of pharma formulations, the pharma industry is also earning huge foreign exchange from the exports. With the existing market value of about USD 3 billion, the Bangladesh pharma manufacturing industry is rapidly marching ahead with great potential as 98% of the country’s total demand for medicine is being met by nearly 300 domestic manufacturers, which is a milestone in the history of the Bangladesh pharmaceutical industry. At the same time, these local manufacturers are exporting as well to more than 127 countries across the world.

The anticipated market size of the Bangladesh pharmaceutical industry is more than USD 6 billion by 2025 with an absolute growth of 114% from 2019 levels, while the pharma exports of Bangladesh is likely to cross USD 450 million by 2025. The share of the local manufacturing companies is above 90%.

The pharmaceutical industry is already announced as a promising sector by the Hon. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, since it is contributing much to the improvement of country’s economic growth. Bangladesh has undoubtedly emerged as one of the fastest growing pharma-economy in global markets, and the momentum of growth further accelerated by 17 years long extension till year 2033 by WTO / TRIPs to continue the patented pharma formulations.

An encouraging development is more than 47 units at API Manufacturing Park are coming up near Dhaka.