Dear Colleagues!  This is Asrar Qureshi’s Blog Post #825 for Pharma Veterans. Pharma Veterans welcome sharing of knowledge and wisdom by Veterans for the benefit of Community at large. Pharma Veterans Blog is published by Asrar Qureshi on WordPress, the top blog site. Please email to for publishing your contributions here.

Pharmaceutical industry in Pakistan has grown exponentially since 1990s. It is not just about volume; the industry has provided great relief to people by making generic drugs available at affordable prices. Presently, our local manufacturing caters for over 90% of local demand. Medicines are still being imported but in categories where local products are not available. Much of the growth of local pharma is undesirable fat; 100 – 200 branded generics of the same molecule (diclofenac, ciprofloxacin, ceftriaxone, omeprazole etc.) is not just unjustifiable but it has taken the generic war to new lows. The cost of selling has increased hugely, leading to low profitability for the manufacturer; the benefit is going to intermediate stakeholders only. Pakistan Pharma Industry has not added value to pharma business by way of research, international certifications, and international presence. Let us look at the pharma landscape in nearby countries.

Out of 650 pharmaceutical manufacturers in Pakistan, none has been approved by EU, Australia, Canada, UK, or USFDA. Couple of companies have recently received PIC/s certification and WHO approval. The number of publicly listed companies is barely 12, out of which 5 are MNCs. Pakistan Pharma once started pursuing export aggressively, thanks to the formation of TDAP and its first chief executive Tariq Ikram. There was talk of reaching US$ one billion in five years. After his departure, TDAP was left at the mercy of bureaucrats who reversed progressive policies. More on Pakistan Pharma export in another post.


Since 1980s, the pharmaceutical sector in Bangladesh is evolving into a strong and progressive segment. I visited Dhaka in 2004 and visited the offices of several major companies, Square, Beximco, Acme, Incepta etc. These were among the top ten companies competing vigorously with the MNCs.

There are about 250 licensed pharmaceutical manufacturers in the country, of which 150 are functional, according to Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries.  Interestingly, 15 or more companies are listed on the Dhaka stock exchange and their market capitalization makes them have about 10% share. The industry has been growing at an average rate of 15%, and is expected to reach USD 6 billion by 2025. The exports are close to $200 million to 150 countries.

Square was number one at that time, and it still is, with 17% market share and BDT 57 billion sales. It was established in 1958 and became public limited in 1991. Square has several international certifications including USFDA approval.

Incepta Limited is the second largest pharma company with a share of 10%, and turnover of BDT 28 billion.

Beximco Pharma is the flagship company of Beximco group. Presently, it is at number #3 with a market share of 8.4% and sales of BDT 26 billion. The company started working in 1980, was listed on stock exchange in 1986, and is now exporting to USA, EU, Australia, and Canada due to its international certifications including USFDA.

Opsonin Pharma is at #4 with the market share of 5.5% and sales of BDT 18 billion.

Renata at number #5 was incorporated in 1972 as Pfizer Limited. In 1993, Pfizer sold all shares to local shareholders, who changed the name to Renata and are running it successfully. Currently, it has a market share of 4.9% and sales of BDT 16 billion.

Another similar story is that of Eskayef Pharmaceutical Limited at #6. It was acquired from the US company SK&F when it left the country. The company has been pursuing international approvals relentlessly. They have been approved by MHRA UK, EU, TGA Australia, SHAPRA South Africa, ANVISA Brazil and US FDA. All this has been achieved being a local company.


Indonesia’s pharmaceutical market is the largest market in the Southeast Asia region, with sales valued at US$7.6 billion, and having a CAGR of 10.7%. Local pharma holds 75% market share while MNCs have 25% market share.

Indonesia has 4 state-owned companies, 178 local manufacturers, and 24 MNCs.

Top ten companies constitute about 36% market share and are all Indonesian companies except Novartis.

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim country with population forecast to reach 305 million by 2035. Despite all this, Indonesia pharma industry is far behind in international certifications and manufacturing of basic ingredients. The government allocates higher percentage of GDP for healthcare and also runs government owned pharma companies.


Malaysian pharmaceutical market was valued at US$3 billion in 2020 with a CAGR of 9%. There are 445 pharmaceutical companies.

Malaysian pharma industry is dominated by the MNCs while the local companies are contented with selling generic drugs locally. The emphasis on export is not aggressive.

Malaysia as country has been through long period of inward focus, forced alienation, political turmoil, and stunted growth. It has affected the development of all industries, however, being a middle-income country, with good tourism revenues, it is still doing well.


Indian pharma industry has risen to great heights, also due to highly supportive government policies. In March 2020, government announced US$1.83 billion investment into the industry, focusing on APIs and key starting materials. This was followed by an additional US$2 billion investment.

India has over 3,000 pharmaceutical companies, having 10,500 manufacturing units, and 500 API manufacturers.

Revenue in domestic Pharma market is projected to reach US$41 billion is 2023. Growth is projected at 9.3% in 2023. Market is expected to reach US$65 billion in 2024 and US$130 billion in 2030.

India’s pharmaceutical exports are over US$25 billion at present, which is projected to keep rising steadily.

India has 665 USFDA approved manufacturing plants outside the US, the highest in the world.

Sum Up

There is much to learn from across the globe. However, our industry and government are not yet paying attention.


Disclaimer: Most pictures in these blogs are taken from Google Images and Pexels. Credit is given where known; some do not show copyright ownership. However, if a claim is lodged at any stage, we shall either mention the ownership clearly, or remove the picture with suitable regrets.


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