Beacon Pharma sets up dedicated antibiotic plant for Tk 250cr

Beacon Pharmaceuticals inaugurated a new facility today to manufacture antibiotics exclusively -- a venture that is likely to fetch the company Tk 100 crore in export receipts a year.

Health Minister Zahid Malik will inaugurate the plant through video conferencing on August 20.

The plant, which sits on 3 acres of land in Bhaluka upazila of Mymensingh district, cost Tk 250 crore and was set up in compliance to Good Manufacturing Practice Regulations promulgated by the US Food and Drug Administration.

It will be dedicated to manufacturing cephalosporins, which are a large group of antibiotics that kill a wide range of bacteria in a similar way to penicillin. They bind to and block the activity of enzymes responsible for making an important component of the bacterial cell wall.

Cephalosporins may be used to treat infections of the bone, ear, skin, upper respiratory tract and urinary tract. So far, five generations of cephalosporins have been developed. A total of 20 kinds of cephalosporins in injection, oral tablet, capsule and dry syrup forms will be produced by Beacon. The plant will be run under its new sister concern, Beacon Cephalosporins.

"We spent five years to set this new sophisticated facility to conform to the highest international standard like that of the US FDA, UK MHRA, TGA Australia," Md Ebadul Karim, managing director of Beacon Pharmaceuticals, told The Daily Star. Though their pharmaceuticals are already produced under strict standards, a little more is needed for specific antibiotic products, for which the new facility was created, he said. "It's a complex facility and need segregation for health safety and avoid cross-contamination with generic drugs," he said.

On quality control, he said they first adopted sophisticated technologies for the facility and worked on sourcing approved raw materials. The facility was up one year back and all this time they had been carrying out trial runs to perfect the quality of their products. "We also conducted experiments for the development of the product through our experienced research and development centre," he added. Besides, the facility has its own effluent treatment plant to treat waste it would produce so that it did not end up polluting the environment. Karim expects to export drugs worth Tk 100 crore per year from this facility upon meeting local demand.

On another note, Karim issued a warning for Bangladesh, saying cephalosporins were not being used rationally here and there was a lot of unnecessary use, which was ultimately increasing bacterial resistance in the population. In many advanced countries, penicillin is still the most commonly used drug, he said. "The Beacon cepha plant is one of the finest cepha facility in South East Asia," said Beacon's director for global business, Monjurul Alam, adding that the company is working to gain the European Union certificate for good manufacturing practice for the plant. "With its high-end antibiotics for local and export markets, we are sure that this facility will boost our export sales and will help to earn foreign currencies for the country," he said.

Beacon followed the guidelines of the World Health Organisation in manufacturing these specific drugs involving 20 skilled pharmacists in ensuring quality. This facility created employment for 150 people and will help the sector expand in other ways, he said.