GPL: The Factory with a Difference. Essential Drugs Monitor No. 004 (1987)
(1987; 2 pages)


The People’s Health Centre (Gonoshasthaya Kendra) in Savar, Bangladesh is an integrated community development project that employs modestly educated, briefly trained health workers. Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury, surgeon, community worker, and co-founder of the People’s Health Centre, was interviewed by the Monitor. In his interview, Dr. Chowdhury discussed the Centre’s private essential drugs factory, Gonoshasthaya Pharmaceuticals Limited (GPL). Dr. Chowdhury stated that GPL is the only non-profit manufacturing plant of its kind in Bangladesh. Public health workers in Bangladesh began training ordinary village women to provide primary health care, but there were no drugs to administer. This prompted the People’s Health Centre to establish a factory to produce drugs that were less expensive than those available elsewhere. From its inception, GPL has only produced essential drugs and at the time of the interview, produced 40 essential drugs. Approximately 50% of drugs produced by GPL go to the government and the remaining 50% go to open commercial sale. One goal of GPL was to encourage the use of branded generics instead of name brand drugs. Consequently, GPL has one of the best quality control labs in Bangladesh. When asked about the predominantly female staff, Dr. Chowdhury stated that GPL wanted to employ people with no other means of working. Therefore the workers employed by GPL are poor village women with few or no marketable skills who have been trained specifically for these jobs. The factory has grown significantly; GPL doubled size in 1985. At the time of the article, GPL was adding more machines and hoped to add a vaccine laboratory. Dr. Chowdhury concluded his interview by stating that two outstanding problems faced by the People’s Health Centre and GPL are pressure from foreign governments and unethical practices of multinationals. (Abstract by Flannery Bowman, 2013)

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