Updated on 10 May 2012
Dr Kallam Anji Reddy, Founder - Dr Reddy's Laboratories
Dr Kallam Anji Reddy started Dr Reddy's Laboratories in 1984 and, in 26 years, the company under his leadership has carved a niche for itself in generics, discovery of new molecules and patenting. The company has retained its focus on bulk drugs and provides raw material to a number of formulation manufacturers.
Dr Reddy's Labs has become one of the largest Indian partner for global pharma companies, turning the Indian bulk drug industry from import-dependent in the mid-1980s to self-reliant in the mid-1990s and, finally, into the export-oriented industry that it is today. BioSpectrum goes back in time with Dr Reddy to bring you glimpses of his journey from a chemist to an entrepreneur with a passion for pharma. He was honored with the BioSpectrum Asia Pacific Bioscience Industry Life Time Achievement Award in 2010.
As a student, he always found science fascinating and was academically excellent at school. "I used to have a lot of fun and never read much. I always had a very good memory so I would top my exams and my friends who played with me would fail," confesses Dr Reddy.
Dr Reddy spent his early years in the village of Tadepalli near Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, India where his father, a farmer, grew turmeric. Recalls Dr Reddy, "I grew up playing in turmeric fields and my first brush with technology in the form of electricity happened when I was 12 years old."
He completed his early schooling from the local high school and went on to earn his bachelor of science degree from Andhra Christian College at Guntur in 1958. Thereafter, he did his masters in pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals from Bombay University followed by a PhD in chemical engineering from the National Chemical Laboratory, Pune, in 1969.
His career began in the state-owned public sector undertaking (PSU), Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Limited (IDPL). But then, the entrepreneur in him took over. He decided to set up his own venture, Uniloids, in 1976. He later founded Standard Organics Limited, before founding Dr Reddy's Labs in 1984 with an initial capital from financial institutions.
Shares Dr Reddy, "My experience in IDPL formed the bedrock of my career. I came out of IDPL as early as 1973 with the objective of making new drugs for the first time in the country. I became an entrepreneur. I did not set upon an office, but, a laboratory. I kept moving from one laboratory to another making it better each time and today, I have one of the best laboratories in the world. I have one Integrated Product Development Organization (IPDO) which I refer to as Taj Mahal where 800 scientists work. It is one of the biggest laboratories in terms of the number of scientists," he recounts with evident pride.
For a man who has been at the forefront of Indian pharma evolution, through generics Dr Reddy is also a tireless crusader for intellectual property rights in India.
Dr Reddy is the pioneer of some of the very important compounds and drugs. These have proven to be vital in terms of affordability and availability for the common masses. The drug that he produced first is Metronidazole, which was better than the Italian product that India was importing at that time. The fact that he was making things, which were even better than the Western countries gave a boost to him. This confidence propelled him to move forward into newer areas.
Later he also succeeded in making Sulphamethaxazole of higher standards. Then when he came out of partnerships and started Dr Reddy's Laboratories, made Methyldopa, which was the only drug available at that time for hypertension. Merck, a well known pharmaceutical company bought that product.