Spending countless hours experimenting on medicaments is an integral part of a degree in pharmaceutics. During this pursuit, Ahmed Kamrul Alam had decided that his passion lies in introducing new medicines in this constantly evolving field. He states, “Creating new medication, introducing it to a skeptical market and interacting with doctors, patients, and pharmacists proved to be a challenge I wanted to tackle.” ICE Business Times opens a dialogue with Kamrul on the pharmaceutical market and how Square has retained its success for decades.
By Shaikh Ashfaque Zaman
Market research is a multi-leveled procedure for Square given that they produce such a vast array of medicaments. “The sustainability of a company is directly through market research. Self-evaluation alone will not suffice; there must be constant vigilance of the market competition. We have a team that monitors disease trends, health patterns, and prevalence within global and local areas through research, health organizations, and interactions with doctors. They also look at what molecules are available or going to be introduced on a constant basis,” emphasizes Kamrul. The company has specific strategies to better understand the market; this entails a marketing team, and a team focused on field work. “The industry has two types of customers in our country; the first are doctors and the second are dispensaries. A doctor’s opinion is of utmost importance because they understand the patient disease trend and have a close relationship with the patients.” This study is a continual process given the prospect of pharmaceuticals in the nation.
“The industry is witnessing a growth of around 15% annually over the past few years. This is resultant from the development of both private and public health sectors, government allocation of funds for the health sector and increased awareness of the health conditions,” illustrates Kamrul. Bangladesh is now a lower middle-income country with a higher GDP; given that the household income is rising, the expenditure on health provisions has increased. “The pharmaceutical industry is growing in every aspect as life expectancies have improved if an aged population thrives in a particular area, there will be an increased rate of the diseased state. This has led the industry to grow and making it one of the most developed sectors of the manufacturing industries in Bangladesh.”
Though the pharmaceutical industry is thriving, some factors are hampering the prospects of the industry. According to the Global Pharmaceutical Logistics Industry, the growth trends identify China as one of the leading contenders in the industry. “It is imperative that we work on research and development in order to expand this ever growing market. We have reached the point where we are 98% self-sufficient in the formulation of a product. However, we lack the availability of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (API), commonly known as Raw Materials. Furthermore, we must focus on backward linkage; this entails packaging development, raw material, and basic research requiring extensive attention.”
Keeping this in mind, the initiative to sustain the nation as a manufacturer of pharmaceutical brands has been taken on by the respective authorities. “The government has dedicated an allocated space in Munshiganj to create an API park; local manufacturers are not producing a sufficient degree of APIs.” This provision is one of the steps that will allow becoming a contender in the market. He adds, “Importing any raw material leads to a significant amount of uncertainty. We may not have enough of a particular material causing the production of the product to cease. Moreover, we are not able to control the price of the product because the product is being imported; this translates into increased cost of production.”
In this regard, Square has expanded to a total healthcare management company. “We believe that expanding will demonstrate our potential. We are producing APIs, agro-chemicals, veterinary drugs, herbals, nutritional pharmaceutics, hospital care, packaging bottles (including PET bottles) and printing and labeling manufacturer,” states Kamrul.
The expansion of the industry has allowed it to export $100 million, of which, Square is the primary exporter with around 15% of the market. “We got UK MHRA approval in 2007 and US FDA in 2015. This is an indicator of the quality of the product that we provide. It further motivates us to penetrate the market of regulated countries; we aspire to widen our global presence in developed countries.”
This attention to quality has allowed Square to gain a global presence in a span of four continents, a venture that they continue to expand upon. A challenging prospect, Kamrul elaborates, “When we export a particular product, there is a requirement of clinical and bioequivalence trials in regulated markets. These tests are not present within the country and must be conducted abroad. Subsequently, the production cost increases.” There is a requirement for these facilities in Bangladesh because reducing mileage will decrease the cost.
Square is not only synonymous with international quality; they are bringing the medical practices of developed nations and incorporating it into the local health sector. They are practicing hospital pharmacy within Square Hospital. “The benefits of having a hospital pharmacist include evaluation of patient conditions and considerations for the best doses which ultimately ensures that right medicine is dispensed to the right patient with proper guidance.” When there is more direct interaction amongst doctors, patients, and pharmacists; the patients are more likely to be benefited.
As the leading innovator in the pharmaceutical sector, Square has retained the number one position since 1985. Kamrul, transcending his passion, is evident in his mantra for the company. He poignantly concluded the interview, voicing the vision of Square, “Our product is about saving lives and healthcare. Therefore, there is no comprise in our quality. We focus on human resource development because for the best product to penetrate the market, you must have a team that is determined to provide the foremost service.”