Pharmaceutical Industry of Bangladesh: Prospects and Challenges

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Bangladesh’s export basket is heavily monopolized by the ready-made garment (RMG) products. Therefore, one of our development agenda is to diversify our export. In this connection, one potential sector with high growth potential is the pharmaceutical sector. Bangladesh is not only capable of meeting the domestic demand for drugs but also drugs from our country are exported to 87 countries. However this sector is facing various challenges to increase export. Most of the raw materials are imported and there is lack of skilled labor. Moreover the TRIPS regulation of the WTO is posing additional challenges. A comprehensive study is necessary to identify the existing and future challenges of this sector and find out solutions to overcome those.

Rationale and justification

Bangladesh has already achieved the status of lower middle income country and proceeding to move out of the LDC status. After graduating from the LDC status, TRIPs agreement of WTO could be a big concern for pharmaceuticals products of Bangladesh. We need to understand the strength of this sector to grow in future even in context of implementation of TRIPs. More over skill needs of pharmaceutical is a concern. The present study will fulfill the gap in research in this sector.


The study will focus on the following research issues-

i) an overview of the pharmaceutical sector of Bangladesh,

ii) the driving forces behind the growth of this sector,

iii) employment in pharmaceutical firms and sill mix

iv) TRIPS regulations under WTO and the future of pharmaceutical sector of Bangladesh,

v) Gender dimension of employment in this sector,

vi) Domestic policies and challenges.


The study will be based on both secondary data and a survey of pharmaceutical firms including its workers, employees and also distributors. Information provided on pharmaceuticals industries in the Survey of Manufacturing Industries (SMI) of Bangladesh will serve as the base for this study. At least 20 firms of different size and category will be surveyed. There will be Key Informant Interview and Focused group discussions. The survey will focus on understanding the determinants of growth of this industry in Bangladesh as well as investigate opportunities and obstacles prevailing for future growth. The study will shed light on the scope of growth of this sector in context of the Intellectual Property Rights issue under WTO. The study will come up with required policy prescriptions for future growth of Pharmaceuticals sector Bangladesh.

Study Team

The study will be carried out by a team of BIDS researchers –

Dr. Nazneen Ahmed, Senior Research Fellow, BIDS

Dr. Kazi Iqbal, Senior Research Fellow, BIDS

Ms. Rizwana Islam, Research Associate, BIDS

Md. Nahid Ferdous Pabon, Research Associate, BIDS

(A study under the Special Research programme of BIDS with the Planning Commission, 2018-19)

About BIDS

The Bangladesh Unnayan Gobeshona Protishthan or The Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) is an autonomous public multi-disciplinary organization which conducts policy oriented research on development issues facing Bangladesh and other developing countries. 

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