Eskayef opened a plant in the Tongi industrial estate for pharmaceutical manufacturing in 2006. Credit: Lumenite / Shutterstock.
Remdesivir manufactured by Eskayef is available under the brand name Remivir. Credit: JOT1988 / Shutterstock.
Eskayef produces a wide variety of drugs for the domestic market and is now going to move into European markets. Credit: Alexander Khoruzhenko / Shutterstock.

Eskayef Bangladesh, also known as Eskayef Pharmaceuticals or SK+F, is one of the largest and fastest expanding pharmaceutical companies located in Tongi, Bangladesh.

The company is involved in manufacturing and distributing a diverse range of pharmaceutical products and therapeutic drugs, including generic Remdesivir for the treatment of Covid-19. It also has interests in the production of veterinary drugs and animal nutrition products.

Eskayef Bangladesh started its pharmaceutical production by manufacturing generic products for the domestic market, but has since moved into bulk products and the veterinary market. The firm currently exports to 54 countries across North America, South America, Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia.

The company is part of the Transcom Group, which acquired it from US-based SmithKline and French in 1990. (SmithKline and French later restructured to form GlaxoSmithKline in 2000.)

Expansion of Eskayef Bangladesh facilities

Eskayef Bangladesh’s growing success in Bangladesh prompted it to expand the existing manufacturing facilities of its Dhaka plant, located in the city’s Tongi industrial park, in 2004.

In September 2004, Scandinavian pharmaceutical engineering and construction consultancy Elomatic was given the task of designing a new production facility.

The contractual scope was to include conceptual, basic and detailed design as well as the validation of the new site to European standards, including several new production blocks. The design was completed by the end of 2004.

Installation and construction works were started in January 2005 and completed by September 2005, while commissioning and validation were completed by the fourth quarter of 2006.

Elomatic undertook the project in conjunction with an Indian partner, Pharmalab. A joint venture, Elomatic-Pharmalab Consulting and Engineering, was later formed in 2004.

Project changes

The project design did not initially work, as the basic concept was to be adapted to the existing facilities of the company to make them suitable for European good manufacturing practice (GMP) production standards.

It was decided that the premises were too small and the rooms were not tall enough. This led Elomatic to design a completely new manufacturing facility in Tongi, adding to the company’s two existing plants in the area.

The site was prepared in May 2005 and the piles for the foundations were driven. The design was handled from Elomatic’s office in Turku, Finland, and the construction work was carried out by local Bangladesh contractors.

Features of the new Eskayef Bangladesh facility

The state-of-the-art Eskayef Bangladesh manufacturing facility includes two separate production buildings with associated infrastructure.

The Tongi plant consists mainly of four blocks, including a non-beta-lactam facility, a cephalosporin block for producing both oral and parenteral formulations, a liquid sterile block and an eye drops and sterile vial block. Other production areas include a generics block, a pellets block and a formulation and development block.

In August 2008, the plant was officially authorised by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). In June 2010, the facility received approval from Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

Eskayef was re-accredited by the UK MHRA in 2011, 2014 and 2017 for consistently upholding the quality, effectiveness and safety of its products. It is the only company in Bangladesh that has received accreditation from the UK MHRA, the TGA and the UK Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD).

New products and Covid-19 treatment

Eskayef continued to launch new products, with the release of 30 new products and 13 new dosage forms in its launch year of 2006 alone. New treatments, including Mixavit (multivitamin with cod liver oil), Emezin plus (meclizine hydrocloride and pyridoxine), Salomax (salbutamol) and Arotide (fluticasone and beclomethasone), are available as metered-dose inhalers.

The company’s offerings also include Zatral (alfuzosin hydrochloride), Urosin (tamsulosin hydrochloride), Uritol (tolterodine tartrate) and Urokit (potassium citrate), LUMIGAN (bimatoprost ophthalmic 0.03% solution for the treatment of glaucoma in conjunction with Allergan) and the disinfection product Handirub (chlorhexidine gluconate and isopropyl alcohol).

With the issue of bird flu never very far away in Asia, Eskayef has also entered the bird flu treatment market with the launch of SK-flu (oseltamivir). SK-flu is a preventative for bird flu available in 75mg capsules.

In 2016, Eskayef launched Sofosbuvir (Soventa), a prescription drug used to treat chronic Hepatitis C infection in adults.

In May 2020, Eskayef became the world’s first drug manufacturing company to successfully produce generic Remdesivir for the treatment of Covid-19. It distributes the drug under the brand name Remivir for Covid-19 treatment.