Bangladesh drug-makers and business leaders said they need continuation of the intellectual property rights waiver for the pharmaceutical industry until 2033 – some six years after the country's graduation from the least developed country status in late 2026.
The privilege is supposed to come to an end with the LDC graduation.
"We urge the government to negotiate with the World Trade Organisation for extending the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights [TRIPS] waiver period for the Bangladesh pharmaceutical products until 1 January 2033," Managing Director of Incepta Pharmaceuticals Abdul Muktadir said at the seminar in the capital on Wednesday.
"The privilege is needed even if the country graduates from the LDC status [on time]," he, also senior vice-president of the Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (BAPI), added.
The Economic Relations Division (ERD) and the Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) organised the event titled "Preparedness of the Pharmaceutical Sector for LDC Graduation, read a press release.
Private Industry and Investment Adviser to Prime Minister Salman F Rahman, BAPI President Nazmul Hassan, ERD Secretary Sharifa Khan, Industries Secretary Zakia Sultana, BUILD Chairperson Nihad Kabir and Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Rizwan Rahman took part in the event.
Salman F Rahman emphasised engaging lobbyist firms in the World Trade Organisation for ensuring continuity of TRIPS waiver for Bangladesh after the LDC graduation.
He also urged the government to operationalize active pharmaceutical ingredient parks at the earliest.
"Bangladesh may request the WTO for country-specific TRIPS waiver," Mohammad Towhidul Islam, professor of law at Dhaka University, echoed Salman F Rahman.
Nazmul Hassan said that the issues of affordability and public health should be taken into consideration while granting patents under the patent law of the country.
Speakers also said the "Bangladesh Patent Law 2022" should be amended in line with the changing perspectives of the local pharmaceutical industry ahead of the country's LDC graduation.
Simultaneously, they called for close collaboration between the government agencies concerned and the private sector in the amendment process.
Zakia Sultana assured that the government would work in close collaboration with the private sector in amending the current patent law of the country, while Nihad Kabir emphasised enhancing the country's legal expertise for the effective formulation and implementation of the intellectual property rights-related provisions.
"Besides, the government should set up biotech parks and genome valleys to facilitate biotechnological research," Rizwan Rahman said while calling for incentives for the pharmaceutical sector like the RMG sector.