The pharmaceutical industry has made quite a mark in terms of its production capacity and maintenance of quality. So, it is no mystery that a few top pharmaceutical companies have achieved the enviable feat of exporting medicines to the market of the United States of America (USA), known for approving drugs for use following rigorous trials and tests. The downside of the local drug market here is that there are also drug manufacturers who are not reputed for maintaining the high standard. Even a few scandalous incidents, particularly one involving deaths of at least 25 children who were treated with a paracetamol syrup, have rocked the pharmaceutical industry. Excepting such aberrations including manufacture and marketing of certain types of spurious medicines, the records of the pharmaceutical companies in general are good. But for medical intervention in saving human lives, drugs are not the only means. Medical equipment, machines and a host of paraphernalia devices prove at times more crucial for critical patients. In time of the highest spike of Covid-19, this became particularly evident to all including even laymen.
According to a report carried in a contemporary, the country's annual market size of medical devices is worth Tk200 billion, of which the local manufacturers can meet only a paltry 4.0 per cent. But only 30,000 types of a total of 2.0 million varieties of medical devices found on the world market are in demand in this country. Strangely, local production comprises only a minuscule number of such products such as disposable and insulin syringes, disposable needles, infusion sets, alcohol prep pads, blood transfusion sets, blood bags and gloves. Clearly, these are mostly cheaper variety of medical implements and made from plastic. What transpires from this is that an overwhelming portion of the requirement is procured from abroad and the country has to spend the lion's share of the Tk 200 billion on import.
Evidently, there is a hugeprospect for developing a medical device industry in this country. If the demand can be met from local production, the country may save the money spent on import. Following the footsteps of pharmaceutical industry, it can moreover explore the global market for export because it is vast and growing. There is no reason why Bangladesh should lag behind some of its neighbouring countries which are making breakthroughs in this area. It is still a less explored frontier of business for developing countries and therefore early entry into the fray may be a guarantee for sure success.
However, where things prove somewhat discouraging for investors in this industry is the bigger size of investment and a longer wait for return to accrue compared to other conventional industries. But once the business picks up, there is no looking back. After all, like lifesavingdrugs, medical implements are equally indispensable for treatment and cure of patients. The nightmarish experiences about shortage of ventilators in hospitals around the world still continue to haunt doctors, nurses and near and dear ones of the patients who breathed their last for the lack of this facility. There is no reason to think coronavirus is the last such killing agent.With the climate in turmoil more pathogens will emerge and medical equipment will be in high demand. So, investment is worth making for developing a strong medical device industry.