Medicinal Drugs and Drug Policy
The per capita consumption of Western drugs in Bangladesh was about US$1 per year in the late 1980s. According to a government statement in 1982, although most people had no access to lifesaving drugs, a large number of wasteful and undesirable medicinal products were manufactured and marketed mostly under commercial pressure. A national drug policy promulgated in 1982 was aimed at simplifying the range of drugs available and at improving the logistics of drug distribution at reasonable prices. The policy identified sixteen guidelines for the evaluation of medicinal products for the purpose of registration. The registration of more than 1,700 products was canceled and these were gradually withdrawn from use. Unani, ayurvedic, and other homeopathic medicines were also brought under this policy.
Under the new policy, in order to promote local enterprise, foreign companies were no longer allowed to manufacture antacid and vitamin preparations. The policy identified 150 essential drugs for therapeutic purposes. Attempts to increase local production of drugs continued, and the government provided Bangladeshi firms with generous industrial loans and other assistance. Some essential drugs were also being manufactured at government plants.
As the 1980s came to a close, Bangladeshi society had made some remarkable advances in social development, education, and health care. Severe national disasters, however, in addition to political discontent, contributed to the negation of any net advances. Ever optimistic, Bangladeshis continued their age-old struggle against the land and sought ways to accommodate the burgeoning society.
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