Beximco Pharmaceuticals isn’t just manufacturing medicine, it’s transforming the collective health of Bangladesh.
“We’re one of the trailblazers,” COO Rabbur Reza tells The CEO Magazine. “Bangladesh got its independence in 1971 and at that time, life expectancy was around 52 years and almost 80 per cent of medicines were either manufactured by multinationals or being imported into the country,” he says.
Since its inception in 1976, Beximco has changed all that and today the situation is vastly different. “Over the last four decades, life expectancy has increased to 72 years and we now produce almost 97 per cent of the total medicine made for the country. Additionally, we export to over 70 countries, including the highly regulated markets of the USA, Australia and Europe,” Rabbur explains.
“We are the first US FDA approved pharma company in Bangladesh, and now account for over 20 per cent of the country’s total export of pharmaceutical products. The Bangladesh pharma industry is now very vibrant and forward-looking, and Beximco Pharma has played a significant role in that.”
A global reach
When Rabbur first joined Beximco Pharma in 1992, he says the company culture was already “excellent”. “It was run by professionals who had big aspirations about how they would like to make this company global because, you see, it originated from two multinationals so it had all the backbones of good quality manufacturing already,” Rabbur explains.
“During my time here, I’ve seen that transformation and we can now proudly say that Beximco has shown the industry how a small pharma company can transform into a bigger global generic pharmaceutical player.”
During my time here, I’ve seen that transformation and we can now proudly say that Beximco has shown the industry how a small pharma company can transform into a bigger global generic pharmaceutical player.
A self-proclaimed people person, Rabbur favours a leadership style that sees him seeking to constantly improve operations and staff experience, and be familiar with every facet of the business.
“I am passionate about what I do,” Rabbur smiles. “I aspire to be among the best and that really keeps me moving. I listen to our team and try to work with them, to sit with the managers and see how they’re doing things, understand their problems and their needs. I try to be a learner. I would say that I’m still learning.”
Rabbur has additional leadership roles of two subsidiaries Beximco has strategically acquired. He is Managing Director of Nuvista Pharma (formerly Organon Bangladesh) and CEO of Synovia Pharma (formerly Sanofi Bangladesh), which Beximco successfully acquired in 2018 and 2021 respectively.
Also integral to the success of the business is the cultivation of strong partnerships – something that Rabbur continues to prioritise. “In all aspects, we try to build a partnership rather than buying and selling a relationship,” he says.
“It’s true that you cannot do that with every organisation, but we have strong partnerships both on the supply side and at the front end, with those who are working with us for the multinational companies and all the leading generic companies or distributors.
“When we have a good strategic alliance and can demonstrate that if we can use their business and, at the same time, if they can build their business alongside us, then both of us can grow and that is very important for sustainable growth.”
In turn, Rabbur explains, that ensures Beximco Pharma is able to leverage costs and products and, ultimately, continue to challenge competitors.
While the COVID-19 pandemic was enormously destructive for many businesses, for Beximco it provided an opportunity to show the world exactly what it was capable of. “Beximco Pharma has achieved extraordinary accomplishments since the start of pandemic, with quick responses during the rapidly changing environment, ensuring continued access to treatment and resources, especially in lower-income countries,” Rabbur says.
“We made international headlines a few times. We reacted quickly to become the world’s first company to launch generic versions of repurposed medicine for COVID-19 treatment in the city, and also launched various other repurposed medicines.”
Beximco’s notable reputation in Bangladesh increased by becoming the exclusive supplier of Serum Institute of India’s COVID-19 vaccine in the country. Between July-December 2021, Beximco distributed eight million doses of this COVID-19 vaccine, facilitated through the Government of Bangladesh. The company also offered full support to Bangladesh’s vaccination program by providing storage and nationwide distribution services for all COVID-19 vaccines.
“The COVID-19 drug is very expensive and not available in some countries, but we supplied it free of charge to every government hospital in Bangladesh. In terms of additional humanitarian support, we also supplied our COVID-19 treatments to other countries, including India, and those in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, such as Nepal and the Maldives,” he says.
We want to increase the accessibility of high quality medicine at an affordable price not only in Bangladesh, but for other countries as well.
Rabbur argues that what he and his team do at Beximco Pharma is about so much more than just profits and business success. Rather, it’s about supporting the wider community and doing good.
“We want to increase the accessibility of high quality medicine at an affordable price not only in Bangladesh, but for other countries as well,” he says. “During the pandemic we showed what we can do, and how we can not only manufacture or produce the product, but also support the community as a whole.”
Already well on their way to reaching their goal of becoming a key player in the global pharmaceutical arena, from here, Beximco Pharma will only continue to grow and “break new ground”, as Rabbur puts it.
“We are always about continuous improvement. We are enhancing health and wellbeing for people by supplying evaluated medicine and making it affordable,” he says. “We have a very strong focus on CSR activities, on healthcare education for the unprivileged and research in the areas of medical psychiatry.
“And, finally, we are showing the Bangladesh pharma industry how to become global and setting the bar high for generic medicines across the entire world.”