Like Bangladesh itself, the growth of the Beximco Group has been rapid and unprecedented. With a presence in more than 45 countries, the company is charged with being one of the country’s most important ambassadors internationally
Founded in the 1970s by two brothers, Ahmed Sohail Fasiur Rahman and Salman Fazlur Rahman, Beximco Group is the largest employer in the private sector in Bangladesh. Employing over 48,000 people worldwide, it has evolved from a modest commodities trading company to a heavily diversified conglomerate with operations in sectors as diverse as textiles, real estate development, media, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, and energy. The company operates both domestically and internationally, and combined, the industries it works in account for nearly 75% of Bangladesh’s GDP.
The country produces 99% of its domestic health requirements, in addition to now stepping up its exports. Reflecting the growth of the sector and indeed the nation, the expansion of the Beximco Group has also been rapid and unprecedented. It is now the largest exporter of pharmaceuticals in the nation, and has a global presence in more than 45 countries.
In addition to manufacturing and selling generic pharmaceutical formulation products, active pharmaceutical ingredients (API), and intravenous fluids, it began exporting to the EU market in 2013, where its ophthalmic products are especially notable. Latanoprost and Timol are two drugs used to reduce the pressure inside the eye for people with open-angle glaucoma or intraocular hypertension, and are already available in Germany, Austria, and other parts of the EU. The Beximco Group’s budget-friendly generic alternatives have been a welcome addition to governments seeking to reduce healthcare costs without compromising on quality.
Beximco Pharmaceuticals and its facilities are already also accredited for export by the regulatory authorities of Australia, Canada, Taiwan, and Brazil, and as of June 2015, the company can boast of having tapped into another major international market. Following the successful inspection of its oral solid dosage facility in its production center at Tongi, the Beximco Group became the first Bangladeshi company to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
This achievement will pave the way for the export of medicines to the U.S. market, which is famous for its exacting standards and regulations.
Among the drugs Beximco Pharma will export are its generic version of the wonder drug, Sofosbuvir, which is made by Gilead Sciences Inc. and known for its effectiveness at treating hepatitis C (it has a 90% cure rate), as well as its hefty price tag. The Beximco Pharma version – which is prescription only – costs nearly half the price per tablet, making it the cheapest treatment for hepatitis C in the world. For an idea of the market potential of this drug, it is worth noting that an estimated 170-185 million people around the globe are chronically infected with the hepatitis C virus.
According to Salman F. Rahman, the Vice Chairman of the Beximco Group and one of its co-founders, the company’s decision to move into the pharmaceutical manufacturing business was its first major milestone, although in retrospect, this move aligns perfectly with the company’s mantra of ‘Taking Bangladesh to the World.’ He explains that previously, the company’s motto was ‘Diversity is Our Strength’. While this is certainly an idea that continues to ring true through the highly diversified portfolio of industries that the Beximco Group is present in, it is clear that the company is developing an increasingly global agenda.