Barishal-based Rephco Pharmaceuticals Limited, one of the oldest pharmaceutical companies in the country, is passing through its worst time since its establishment due to a sharp drop in sales triggered by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
"Our sales have been reduced by 40-50% since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020," said Jahidul Alom Jewel, director of Rephco Pharmaceuticals and also one of the owners of the firm.
"Due to the repeated lockdowns during the last one and a half years, our medical promotion officers could not visit the doctors and medicine shops regularly, which is the main reason behind the massive drop in sales," he added.
During the 52 years of its journey, the company has faced different crises, but the owners of the company never compromised with the quality of medicine, according to the Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) office in Barishal.
Barishal DGDA Superintendent Auditi Swarna said Rephco Pharmaceuticals has earned goodwill in the pharmaceutical sector by ensuring the best quality medicine for decades.
She said, "We are satisfied with the product quality of Rephco. In all circumstances they are ensuring the quality of their medicine."
Rephco Pharmaceuticals, established in 1968, became an instant success story by producing quality medicine and distributing it across the country.
The company was established by the late Khalilur Rahman, who was a wholesale dealer of six medicine companies and owner of a small pharmacy in Barishal city.
Based on the experience he had gathered as a dealer of medicine companies and owner of a pharmacy, he established the medicine factory at Kownia area in Barishal city, according to Rephco officials.
They said at the beginning that the company had obtained permission to manufacture 12 kinds of liquid syrups. Now the company is producing 92 types of medicine, including tablets and capsules.
"To maintain the standard of medicine, we collect raw materials from the best available sources," said Jahidul Alom Jewel, adding that the firm imports raw materials of antibiotics from Italy, vitamins from Germany and Switzerland, and the raw materials of all other medicine from China.
He said, "We distribute our medicine all across the country through a team of efficient medical promotion officers. We have a workforce of around 1,200 people including the factory workers and officials. The yearly sale of the company is around Tk75 crore to Tk80 crore. Including all imports, the yearly transaction of the company is Tk130 crore to Tk150 crore."
The company is operated by five directors who also hold equal ownership, said Jewel, adding that all their marketing activities are operated from their corporate office in Dhaka.
"The company now has more production capacity than its market demand. So, we are considering exporting our medicine," he added.
Abdus Sattar, who has been involved in the medicine business since 1965 and is the owner of a pharmacy in Jhalokati, said medicines manufactured by Rephco Pharmaceuticals were very popular in the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s.
Though its popularity has declined now, the quality of its medicine is the same as it was in the past, he added.