Square Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a leading drug producer in Bangladesh, has signed agreements with Renata Oncology Ltd and Apex Pharma Ltd for contract manufacturing of some of its products.
And the company's management approved the agreements too. The two companies will meet the increased demands for Square Pharma's existing products and also introduce new ones for it.
Square Pharma's Company Secretary Khandaker Habibuzzaman told The Business Standard: "The demand for Square Pharma's medicines is growing. So we signed agreements with two companies both of whom will produce products according to our demand."
Asked about the company's response to Covid-19, Habibuzzaman said, "Our corporate office will remain closed following the government announcement but the production at our factories will go on."
Earlier, the company decided to set up a subsidiary named Square Lifesciences Ltd to produce oral solid dosage products. The estimated cost of the project is Tk350 crore and it will be financed by the internally generated funds of Square Pharma. And the company expects to implement it by June 2023.
Late Samson H Chowdhury started his drug business by setting up Square Pharmaceuticals Ltd in 1958 when the multinational companies would dominate the country's medicine market.
Later, the drug business by local companies started to grow after Bangladesh secured patent privilege in medicine as a least developed country (LDC).
Bangladesh as an LDC can export generic versions of patented drugs to any country where those drugs are not covered by patents or where compulsory licences are issued to treat diseases like cancer or HIV/AIDS.
The demand for medicine in the country was Tk22,352 crore at the end of 2019, and it grew by 15 percent.
Now, Square Pharma leads the country's drug market, controlling 17 percent of it.
The company now produces 858 types of medicines, with Seclo, a drug for gastric ailments, leading the sales.
It earned Tk4,500 crore revenue in the 2018-19 financial year. Its business has been growing by 15 percent since then.
Square Pharma became the country's first company to export medicines in 1987. Now it exports drugs to 42 countries and earned Tk149 crore from drug export in the last financial year.
The paid-up capital of Square Pharma, which was listed in the share market in 1995, is Tk844 crore.
Sponsor directors hold 34.57 percent stake in the company, while institutional investors 10.30 percent, foreign investors 19.48 percent and general investors 35.65 percent.
The company disbursed 42 percent cash and 7 percent stock dividend in the last financial year. The closing price of its shares at the Dhaka Stock Exchange was Tk172.50 on Tuesday.