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Remembering O3ur Future:
Bangladesh marks the successful phase out of CFCs in asthma medicines and adoption of ozone-friendly inhalers

Dhaka, 15 March 2012
- “Once upon a time, there was a system in this plant on this site that used a gas called Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to manufacture Metered Dose Inhalers (MDI). For the benefit of future generations, this production facility stopped using CFCs.”

These are the first lines in the Plaque for the Successful Phase out of CFCs in the Manufacture of MDIs in Bangladesh that was unveiled today in the symbolic ceremony that permanently closed down the CFC-based MDI manufacture of Beximco Pharmaceuticals Limited, the largest manufacturer of pressurized metered-dose inhalers (pMDIs) in the country.

The plaque, indicating complete phase-out of CFCs by Beximco, was unveiled by Prof. A.F.M. Ruhal Haque, Hon'ble Minister of Health, Government of Bangladesh. He lauded the efforts of Beximco and said, "This is a unique achievement by a company in a LDC. This will not only help efforts of sustainable development of Bangladesh, but will also ensure competitiveness of the industry in international markets." Mr. Nazmul Hassan, MP and Managing Director of Beximco, was also present.

“The year 2012 marks the 25th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol and the closure of CFC MDI manufacturing line in Bangladesh marks a significant milestone not only for the Montreal Protocol but also for the cooperation between the Government of Bangladesh, the pharmaceutical industry and the Bangladesh Lung Foundation in their joint efforts with the international community to protect the ozone layer,” said Mr. Atul Bagai, Senior Regional Coordinator of the United Nations Environment Programme - Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (UNEP-ROAP).

The event was organized by Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd., in partnership with local organizations like the Department of Environment and the Bangladesh Lung Foundation, back to back with the annual meeting of the Montreal Protocol’s Medical Technical Options Committee (MTOC) from 14 to 16 March 2012 in Dhaka, and was attended by members of the committee, the Technical and Economic Assessment Panel (TEAP), international organizations, and various government and non-government organizations.

Interacting with the MTOC members, Mr. Monowar Islam, the Additional Secretary and Director General, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of Bangladesh said, “The successful completion of the project has been extremely timely and gives the government confidence to take up more challenging tasks. The support received from the international community has been invaluable to the government as well as the industry.”

Globally it has taken more than 20 years of research and expenditure of about US$ 2 billion to develop the CFC-free MDIs. To accelerate this switch to CFC-free inhalers, UNEP, National Ozone Units, TEAP, and MTOC, through their combined effort and various national collaborations have developed support material and resources as measures to assist developing countries like Bangladesh to achieve a seamless and cost-effective transition to CFC-free MDIs.

In March 2008, 21 countries from South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific together with the CFC-based MDI manufacturing industry agreed on the Langkawi Declaration on Public-Private Partnership on Phasing-out CFC MDIs. According to Mr. Bagai, “The declaration was the first of its kind which we believe strengthened industry-government cooperation in the smooth transition to CFC-free MDIs here in Bangladesh and the whole Asia-Pacific.”

Dr. Helen K Tope, Principal Consultant, Energy International Australia and Co-Chair of MTOC commended the efforts of Bangladesh. She stated that “the success of MDI conversion strategy is a historic step in operationalising environmental governance in Bangladesh. It demonstrates the strong commitment of the government as well as industry to come together on challenging environmental issues. The Bangladesh case is a success story for many developing countries to emulate.”
 
Mr. Rabbur Reza, Chief Operating Officer of Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd. and MTOC member said, “The Multilateral Fund has enabled Bangladesh to contribute to global efforts in protecting the ozone layer without compromising on sustainable development.”  He added, “Extensive clinical trials have shown that the new CFC-free inhalers are equally safe and as effective as the old CFC-containing versions but with the added benefit of being environmentally friendly and not causing any damage to the ozone layer.”

Already many countries such as Australia and most countries in the European Union have successfully withdrawn CFC-containing inhalers from the market and exclusively use ozone friendly inhalers -the CFC-free or dry powder inhalers.

UNEP DTIE OzonAction Programme’s Compliance Assistance Programme (CAP), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Bangladesh’s Department of Environment, Ministry of Environment and Forest and Beximco Pharmaceuticals Ltd also jointly organized a symposium “Goal Zero”, which discussed and highlighted the successful transition of Bangladesh to CFC-free inhalers. It was attended by over 250 leading doctors and foreign delegates involved in asthma and COPD care.

For more information, please contact:

Ms. Satwant Kaur, Regional Information Officer, UNEP, Tel: +662 288 2127/02 288 2314; E-mail: satwant.kaur@unep.org

Mr. Atul Bagai, Senior Regional Network Coordinator, OzonAction Programme, UNEPRegional Office for Asia and Pacific. Tel: +6622881662 ; Fax: +6622883041 ; Email: atul.bagai@unep.org

OzonAction Programme: www.unep.org/ozonaction
Multilateral Fund: www.multilateralfund.org
Ozone Secretariat: www.ozone.unep.org

Notes to Editors

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the United Nations system’s designated entity for addressing environmental issues at the global and regional level. Its mandate is to coordinate the development of environmental policy consensus by keeping the global environment under review and bringing emerging issues to the attention of governments and the international community for action.

Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer is an international treaty designed to protect the ozone layer by phasing out the production and consumption of a number of substances believed to be responsible for ozone depletion. The treaty was opened for signature on September 16, 1987 and entered into force on January 1, 1989. Since then, it has undergone five revisions, in 1990 (London), 1992 (Copenhagen), 1995 (Vienna), 1997 (Montreal), and 1999 (Beijing). Due to its widespread adoption and implementation it has been hailed as an example of exceptional international cooperation "Perhaps the single most successful international agreement to date...”

The Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol is managed by an Executive Committee which is responsible for overseeing the operation of the Fund. The Committee comprises seven members from developed and seven members from developing countries. The 2012 Committee membership includes Belgium, Canada, Finland, Japan, Romania, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and United States of America (developed countries) and Argentina, China, Cuba, India, Kenya, Jordan and Mali (developing country members) and is chaired by Mr. Xiao Xuezhi (China). The Committee is assisted by the Fund Secretariat which is based in Montreal, Canada.

CFCs in Metered Dose Inhalers (MDI). CFCs have primarily been used for commercial and industrial purposes, but their application is extended to a variety of prescribed CFC-containing metered dose inhalers (MDIs) used for the control of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Although global use of MDIs is only one to five percent of total CFC use but to protect the ozone layer, it is important to act across all environmental challenges and this use of CFCs must also be phased out. CFC containing inhalers are increasingly being replaced by Hydrochlorofluoroalkanes (HFA) MDIs and Dry Powder Inhalers (DPIs).


Remembering O3ur Future:  Bangladesh marks the successful phase out of CFCs in asthma medicines and adoption of ozone-friendly inhalers

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