Novo Nordisk, the world's biggest insulin maker, yesterday launched three locally manufactured insulin products in Bangladesh.
The three products -- Mixtard 30, Insulatard and Actrapid -- all manufactured by the Danish company's local partner Eskayef Bangladesh Ltd, were unveiled at a ceremony at the Westin Hotel in the city.
With the launch, Novo Nordisk, which controls 75 percent of the local insulin market, and Eskayef, Bangladesh's one of the fastest growing medicine makers, will be able to take the insulin products to the patients at affordable prices.
This is the first time the Danish company is producing insulin locally. Before the launch, the company used to import the products.
The current diabetic population of 8.4 million in Bangladesh is projected to double by 2030.
To meet the growing demand for insulin in Bangladesh, Novo Nordisk has partnered with Eskayef and established a high-tech facility, exclusively for insulins.
Almost 6 to 7 out of 10 patients taking insulin in Bangladesh use Novo Nordisk's insulins, according to company officials.
The insulins have been manufactured from bulk drug (insulin crystals) and other raw materials supplied by Novo Nordisk, Denmark. The domestic formulation complies with the stringent quality norms as practised across the world by Novo Nordisk.
Maziar Mike Doustdar, vice president for international operations at Novo Nordisk, said Bangladesh is the eighth largest country in the world when it comes to the number of diabetic patients.
“So, Bangladesh needs support in producing the insulins,” he said.
He said the company is now helping 1,500 children with diabetes to obtain free treatment and insulins, who otherwise would have not been able to afford treatment. Their number would go up in the coming days, he said.
Prof Gowher Rizvi, international affairs adviser to the prime minister, said the launch of the locally produced high quality and world-class insulin is a milestone for Bangladesh.
Mozibur Rahman Fakir, state minister for health and family welfare, said diabetes is one of the most challenging diseases for the world. It is also true for Bangladesh.
He thanked Novo Nordisk for setting up a sophisticated manufacturing plant in Bangladesh in association with Eskayef to produce high quality products.
Pia Olsen Dyhr, the Danish minister for trade and investment, said there is a serious lack of access to proper treatment among Bangladeshi diabetic people.
“The partnership between Novo Nordisk and Eskayef will make a significant difference in taking affordable products to the people of the country,” she said.
She said the partnership will not only promote world-class insulin products but also help transfer technology and innovation.
“The local venture will create jobs for the people of Bangladesh,” said the Danish minister.
Svend Olling, Danish ambassador to Bangladesh, thanked Novo Nordisk for investing in Bangladesh, as the people would be able to buy world-class products at affordable prices.
Latifur Rahman, chairman of Eskayef Bangladesh, said the country's pharmaceutical industry has grown tremendously in the past 40 years.
Now local companies meet 97 percent of the domestic demand with high quality products.
He said the country is also capable of exporting products, meeting all the requirements of the importing countries.
He said the alliance has been further strengthened and has facilitated new investments, which would create jobs and provide international quality insulins at affordable prices.
Rahman, also the chairman and chief executive officer of Transcom Group, which owns Eskayef, said Novo Nordisk has a total of eight manufacturing facilities across the world, with one in Bangladesh.
“It is a proud moment for the pharmaceutical sector in Bangladesh that Novo Nordisk has chosen to tie up with Eskayef to produce such a high-tech product as insulin,” he said.
Kim Steffensen, director (contract and local manufacturing) of Novo Nordisk, said: “We never compromise on quality and business ethics.”
“The products that Eskayef will produce will have the same quality and standards as Novo Nordisk ensures around the world,” he said.
Prof AK Azad Khan, president of Diabetic Association of Bangladesh, said the growing number of people with diabetes in Bangladesh is in constant need of proper care and timely treatment including the need for sustained insulin supply.
Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk is a global healthcare company with 89 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. The company also has leading positions in haemophilia care, growth hormone therapy and hormone replacement therapy.
It employs around 32,700 people in 75 countries and markets its products in 190 countries.
Simeen Hossain, chief executive officer of Eskayef Bangladesh, and A Rajan Kumar, managing director of Novo Nordisk Pharma Ltd, were also present.