The Bangladesh Patent Law 2022 should be amended in line with the changing scenario of the local pharmaceutical industry after the country's LDC graduation, experts said at a seminar in the capital on Wednesday.
Simultaneously, they called for close collaboration between the government agencies concerned and the private sector in the amendment process.
The observations came up during a seminar on 'Preparedness of Pharmaceutical Sector for LDC Graduation' - jointly organised by the Support to Sustainable Graduation Project (SSGP) of Economic Relations Division (ERD) and Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD).
The seminar was organised to take stock of the initiatives and preparedness that are already underway to address the challenges of the loss of TRIPS waiver.
Speaking as the chief guest, Prime Minister's Private Industry and Investment Adviser Salman F Rahman called for engaging lobbyist firms in the World Trade Organization (WTO) for the continuation of TRIPS waiver for Bangladesh after graduation.
He also put emphasis on the quick operationalisation of API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients) parks.
Mr Rahman demanded immediate closure of the mailbox system, created back in 2008 for submitting patent applications, as the mailbox system has lost its relevance in the present context.
ERD Secretary Sharifa Khan, in her speech, called for a stronger partnership between the public and private sector to prepare the pharmaceutical industry for the post-graduation phase.
Speaking on the occasion, Secretary of the Ministry of Industries Zakia Sultana assured that the government would work in close collaboration with the private sector while amending the current patent law of the country.
Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) President Rizwan Rahman said that the government should set up 'Biotech Park' and 'Genome Valley' to facilitate biotechnological research.
Mr Rahman underscored the need for giving incentives to the pharmaceutical sector like the RMG sector.
President of Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries Nazmul Hassan said that the issues of affordability and public health should be taken into consideration while granting patents under the patent law of the country.
Nihad Kabir emphasised enhancing the country's legal expertise for effective formulation and implementation of the intellectual property rights related provisions.
In his presentation, Senior Vice President of Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries and Managing Director of Incepta Pharmaceuticals Ltd Abdul Muktadir stressed the need for negotiating with WTO for extending the TRIPS transition period relating to pharmaceutical products for Bangladesh until 01 January 2033, even if the country graduates from the LDC status.
Professor Dr Mohammad Towhidul Islam of Dhaka University said that Bangladesh might request the WTO for country-specific TRIPS waiver for Bangladesh.
Farid Aziz, additional secretary of ERD and project director of SSGP, welcomed the participants, while BUILD CEO Ferdaus Ara Begum gave the vote of thanks. The burgeoning pharmaceutical sector of Bangladesh has witnessed exponential growth over the last few decades.
The TRIPS waiver for least developed countries (LDCs) under the WTO-TRIPS agreement is one of the key drivers of such impressive growth. The industry has strong potential to accelerate its growth and create a bold footprint in the global market.
According to the stakeholders, appropriate measures following an action-oriented roadmap are critical to tapping these opportunities and shielding against the erosion of waivers under the TRIPS agreement in the wake of the LDC graduation of Bangladesh in November 2026.