Sri Lanka, so far heavily dependent on Indian drugs, has signed an MoU with Bangladesh to import pharmaceuticals products.
The country’s visiting health minister, Maithripala Sirisena, signed a deal with his Bangladesh counterpart, Mohammed Nasim, on Monday at the latter’s offfice.
Nasim said Sri Lanka had already given a list of “525 types of medicines” that they want to source from Bangladesh.
“It’ll solely be a government to government mechanism. We will soon form a committee, which will monitor the exports,” he said.
Representatives of both sides will be on the committee, Nasim said.
He said Sri Lanka imported 70 percent to 80 percent of its needed drugs from India. “Bangladesh is a new reliable field for them.”
The Sri Lanka’s minister said they had turned to Bangladesh for the “high-quality and low price” of medicines the country is offering.
This is the first government-to-government mechanism for exporting Bangladesh drugs.
Abdul Muktadir, Secretary General of the Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries, has welcomed the deal.
“It’s a big achievement for Bangladesh and our pharmaceutical industries,” he told bdnews24.com, but added it would be a “challenging task”.
He said Sri Lanka approached Bangladesh as “they trust our drugs”.
“We have to be careful,” he said, as Sri Lanka wants high-quality products at reasonable prices.
“If we succeed, it will open new exports market through a government-to-government mechanism”.
Health minister Nasim said they would send medicines primarily from the state-run producer, EDCL. “When necessary, we’ll take the private sector’s help”.
Bangladesh’s drug exports have grown over the years after meeting national demands.
According to industry figures, drugs worth more than Tk six billion were exported to 70 countries last year, while the amount was Tk 3.3 billion in 2009.
Sri Lanka’s annual drug import is about Tk 40 billion, as it depends on outside supplies. India dominates the market apart from multinationals.
Some Bangladesh companies also export a small amount.
So the new agreement should open the door to increasing the export volume, the marketing chief of a pharmaceutical company told bdnews24.com.
But he remained sceptical.
“Nothing might happen”, he said, if Sri Lanka took drugs from Bangladesh comparing prices with India.
“Our companies will guarantee quality, no doubt about that, but the problem is they will not be able to compete with Indian prices”.
“India can supply at much lower price than us,” he said.
“The MoU will open an opportunity for us if Sri Lanka keeps a quota for us and takes a certain amount of medicines every year”.
He, however, was unaware of whether the MoU had that provision.
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