Progress in the works of the much sought-after active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) park has reportedly run into a snag. According to a report published recently in the FE, implementation work of the API park project remained suspended for the past nine months for want of the required revision of the project expenditure due to cost escalation. In view of the growing demand for an exclusive API park, the government took the initiative to set up the park at Gazaria, Munshiganj at a cost of Tk 2.58 billion. Work on the project was scheduled to commence in January 2008, and get completed by December 2012. It had been planned that a total of 42 pharmaceutical industries would be set up in the 200-acre park, which would bring about a revolutionary change in the country’s pharmaceutical sector, creating employment opportunities for 25,000 people, according to sources. The Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) is implementing the project.
An active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) is considered a ‘magical’ substance in a pharmaceutical drug or a pesticide that is biologically active. However, some medications and pesticide products may contain more than one active ingredient. Medicinal drugs are used primarily for their active ingredients. API, which is the drug itself, is the main substance of the tablet or the liquid in which it is suspended or other material that is pharmaceutically inert. In recognition of the need for highly sophisticated methods and technology required for the purpose, setting up of an API park in the country was considered highly essential by the concerned quarters.
Reports say that construction work has been on hold since the scheduled implementation period expired in December 2012. At present, revision of the project is awaiting approval of the executive committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC). The revision is particularly aimed at addressing the cost escalation due to the slow progress in the implementation works, initially caused by difficulties in acquiring lands coupled with other problems. Meanwhile, due to cost increase, the estimated expenditure meant for the central effluent treatment plant (CETP) has also substantially increased resulting in disagreements with the Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (BAPI) on the enhanced cost. Initially, the BSCIC had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the BAPI under terms of which the allottees were to pay Tk 250 million for installation of the CETP. Recently, a revised MoU has been signed between the two according to which the enhanced cost, now estimated at Tk 800 million, will be borne by the allottees.
The available reports indicate that the pharma companies willing to move to the API park are much more forthcoming in coming to terms with emerging realities compared to some of their counterparts in other sectors, known for their stubbornness. That the much-awaited project has been stalled is a piece of bad news. Now, gearing it up for extension with the required revision of costing is what the government should do at its earliest. Needless to say, the API park, once completed, would open up wide avenues for flourishing of the pharma sector.