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Beximco Pharma's mosquito repellent cream arrives just as dengue cases are ticking up

  • Published at 12:49 am December 4th, 2020
Beximco Pharma Nomos

In November, which is not the usual season for dengue, the health authorities recorded 47% of the total dengue cases recorded in 2020

Beximco Pharma, it appears, is developing a knack for product launches in keeping with the spirit of the time. 

Back in May, when the world was paralysed by fear of coronavirus, Beximco Pharma grabbed headlines globally for being the first company to market remdesivir, the antiviral drug that showed promise then in treating COVID-19 patients. 

Then in August, when AstraZeneca and Oxford’s COVID-19 jab was showing the most promise, the local pharmaceutical giant announced a tie-up with Indian Serum Institute, which is also funding the vaccine project, to be the “exclusive distributor” of Oxford’s Covid-19 vaccine in Bangladesh.

So now, when the cases of dengue are on the rise, Beximco Pharma has rolled out a mosquito repellent cream that promises to provide 99 per cent protection against the Aedes mosquito that causes dengue, chikungunya and zika for up to 8 hours, said a press release on Thursday.

Called NOMOS, the cream retails at Tk 120 per tube.

NOMOS’s rollout comes at a time when the sales of mosquito repellents are not witnessing the extraordinary demand seen at this time last year -- yet.

 So overwhelming was the demand for mosquito repellent creams following a massive dengue outbreak that certain brands’ products were selling at a premium to their maximum retail price.

“We are witnessing fewer dengue cases at the moment compared to last year,” said a medical officer of a private hospital requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak with the media.

As many as 101,354 patients were admitted in hospitals last year for suspected-dengue cases, according to the website of Directorate General of Health Services.

The outbreak in 2019 drove up sales of mosquito repellents by 143% in comparison to the sales in 2018, according to industry insiders. 

“There was a mad rush last year as people panicked due to the dengue outbreak,” said Sabbir Hasan Nasir, executive director of ACI Logistics, which operates the supermarket chain Shwapno. 

The demand this year is lower because cases of dengue fever are fewer, he said, adding that the measures taken for tackling the coronavirus pandemic have also helped lower the dengue cases this year. 

“There is no supply shortage. Nevertheless, we are prepared in case of a surge in demand,” he added. 

Last year was unique for mosquito repellents and sales have come down to usual levels this year, said Shameem Ahmed Jaigirder, general manager (operations) at Meena Bazar, another supermarket chain.

Popular mosquito repellents that are sold in Bangladesh are in the form of smoke coils, aerosols, cream, gel, liquid and vaporiser. 

Their sales though can still pick up seeing that last month, which is not the usual season for dengue, the health authorities recorded 546 cases of dengue infections, which is 47 per cent of the total dengue cases recorded this year. 

A total of 1,174 people were hospitalised with dengue across the country, including 1,033 in Dhaka alone, in the first 11 months of the year, according to data compiled by the Directorate General of Health Services.

Shares of Beximco Pharma, which has been listed since 1986, gained about 113 per cent this year. On Thursday, Beximco Pharma shares closed at Tk 142.9, up about 1.8 per cent from the previous day.

The company posted a 24.7 per cent higher profit of Tk 108 crore between July and September. This comes after the local pharma giant reported a 16.6 per cent higher profit of Tk 354.4 crore for the financial year that ended on June 30.