As the pandemic upended the healthcare supply chain over the past year, one company in Bangladesh did not only strive to ensure the continued distribution of medicines across the country, but also introduced its own antidote against Covid-19.
In the midst of the unprecedented health crisis, Dhaka, Bangladesh-based Beximco Pharmaceuticals introduced remdesivir, the world’s first antiviral drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat those infected by the Covid-19 virus. Originally developed by U.S.-based Gilead Sciences, Beximco sells the generic drug under the brand name Bemsivir.
The company, which is a leading manufacturer and exporter of generic drugs, provided Bemsivir shots free to all government-designated Covid-19 hospitals in Bangladesh and donated large quantities of the medicine to several countries, including India, on humanitarian grounds.
“From the very beginning of this pandemic, Beximco Pharma has made an all-out effort to improve access to all repurposed drugs by ramping up their production in the quickest possible time,” says Nazmul Has-san MP, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Beximco Pharma. “Despite tremendous challenges, Beximco has worked to ensure the uninterrupted supply of medicines throughout Bangladesh.”
The company is also playing a vital role in supplying vaccines to Bangladeshis, having secured 30 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine from the Serum Institute of India.
The drug maker is now lending its expertise to a global initiative to ensure sufficient supply of drugs to fight the virus. In November 2020, it joined Medicines Patent Pool, a United Nations-backed public healthcare organization working to ensure the availability of life-saving medicines to low- and middle-income countries.
“As we grow, we continually strive to meet the needs and expectations of our stakeholders and society as a whole.”
– SHAYAN F. RAHMAN, PRINCIPAL AND ADVISOR TO THE BOARD OF BEXIMCO GROUP
A Leading Healthcare Player
Beximco Pharma’s proactive and humanitarian approach to combating the Covid-19 pandemic is part of its larger commitment to putting corporate social responsibility (CSR) at the core of its values.
“As a socially responsible corporation, Beximco Group constantly strives to make a positive impact in the communities we operate in,” says Shayan F. Rahman, Principal and Advisor to the Board of Beximco Group. “To this end, we have in place numerous programmes that make a truly unique contribution to development in Bangladesh. At Beximco, we believe we have a central role to play in creating positive social change.”
Beximco Pharma started operations in 1976 by importing products from leading drug makers Bayer from Germany and Upjohn from the U.S., before acquiring the license to manufacture these products domestically.
The firm has grown by leaps and bounds since then and has played a key role in the transformation of Bangladesh’s pharmaceutical industry from an import-dependent nation to an exporter. With a 4,500-strong workforce and a diverse portfolio of 500 products, the company is also emerging as a major global generic drug producer.
Beximco Pharma’s manufacturing facilities are accredited by leading regulatory authorities worldwide, and its products are now being exported to more than 50 countries, including the highly regulated markets of the U.S., Europe and Australia.
The company has also differentiated itself with its capabilities in hi-tech dosage delivery systems, such as metered dose inhalers. Today, the firm is the largest producer and exporter of inhalers in Bangladesh.
Enhancing Health and Well-Being
Beximco Pharma’s vision is to enhance human health and well-being by providing effective medicines at affordable prices and manufactured in full compliance with world-class quality standards. It also aims to be one of the most trusted, admired and successful pharmaceutical companies in the region, with a focus on strengthening research and development capabilities as well as creating partnerships and building presence across the globe.
“Beximco Pharma strives to provide access to life-saving therapies and make them affordable—at a fraction of the cost when compared to other developed and developing countries,” says Hassan. “The price of medicine in Bangladesh is probably the lowest in the world. Being a leading manufacturer, we have played an important role in introducing generic versions of many breakthroughs drugs and making them affordable to the patients.”
To realize these ambitions, the company has adopted a set of core values that encompass a commitment to quality by leveraging best industry practices. It also prioritizes talent development and strictly adheres to the highest ethical standards. At the same time, Beximco Pharma actively takes part in initiatives that benefits society and contributes to the welfare of its people.
Breaking New Ground
Beximco Pharma has been a trailblazer in the industry over the past four decades. It was the first Bangladeshi company approved by the USFDA and first to export medicines to the U.S. The firm also has the highest number of global accreditations in the industry among all local manufacturers and is the only Bangladeshi firm listed on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange.
Despite its achievements, the company isn’t resting on its laurels. It continues to make significant investments in R&D—equivalent to 1.5% of its annual revenues—particularly in areas such as biosimilars and vaccines, as it seeks to become a key player in the global market.
“We are the only Bangladeshi company to export medicine to the U.S. and within a short span of time the U.S. has become the largest export market for us,” says Hassan. “This was possible largely due to our stringent quality standards and commitment to excellence.”
Unsurprisingly, the company has won numerous accolades for its achievements. It is a five-time winner of the National Export (Gold) trophy, and remains the only company in Bangladesh to win highly prestigious global awards, including the SCRIP Awards, and the Global Generics and Biosimilars Awards, among others.
Looking a head, Beximco Pharma aims to ramp up contributions from its export business, expand its presence in regulated global markets and increase its focus on vaccines, biosimilars and oncology drugs. It also aims to foster more international collaborations and partnerships, and is also looking to make strategic acquisitions.
Giving Back to Society
As a responsible corporate citizen, Beximco Pharma focuses its CSR activities on healthcare, education for the underprivileged, and research in the areas of medical devices.
The company helped to fund biomedical research in developing a number of low-cost medical devices, including the country’s first negative pressure isolation canopy to protect doctors working in Covid-19 hospitals. It also fully sponsored the country’s lone clinical trial on a potential Covid-19 treatment.
Furthermore, the company collaborates with non-profit organizations that work to improve people’s lives through research, information and advocacy. For instance, it supports the JAAGO Foundation, the country’s largest youth-based volunteer organization. In a separate initiative, the company has sponsored several computer learning schools in remote districts across Bangladesh in partnership with U.S.-based Computer Literacy Program.
“As we grow, we continually strive to meet the needs and expectations of our stakeholders and society as a whole,” says Rahman. “We strongly believe we can only be successful if we create value not just for the company but also for the society, we live in.”
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