Updated on 10 May 2012
Dr Reddy's Labs was the first company to take up drug discovery research in India in 1993. In April 2001, the company also became the first Asian pharmaceutical company outside Japan to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). It is worth mentioning that it was also the best performing company on NYSE.
"We are also the first company to do authorized generics in the US along with our partner Merck for two products," shares Dr Reddy.
This generics pharma czar does not mind being called ‘copy cat'. He happily says, "Yes we are copy cats and there is nothing negative about it. The government allows us to do it, it is not illegal. We are definitely not innovators. But we are the ones who have cut the cost of pharmaceutical substances making it affordable world over. The big pharma who call us copy cats, they too manufacture and market generics. They also fight patent challenges with other innovator companies."
Dr Reddy's Labs has led the industry from being dubbed as copy cats for several years to now being acknowledged as innovators. Dr Reddy says, "If you want to be a world-renowned pharmaceutical player you should have your own discovered product in the world market, at least one to start with."
India changed its patent laws, the Indian Patent Act of 1970 was passed. Product patents for medicinal products were no longer recognized and only process patents continued to be recognized. The pharmaceutical industry in India grasped this opportunity with both hands and proved dramatically that its reverse engineering skills were second to none in the world.
"While everyone was pre-occupied feasting on this opportunity, in 1992, I started thinking in a different direction-with 25 years of experience in synthesizing a plethora of drugs I made up my mind and took the plunge in November 1993. We jumped into discovery with a budget of about $1.40 million (Rs 6.5 crore)," he shares.
And in three years from inception, Dr Reddy discovered one of the most potent glitazones and licensed the molecule now called balaglitazone to the world leader in diabetes, Novo Nordisk of Denmark. Balaglitazone is a partial peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) gamma agonist and phase II results indicated a better side effect profile than the existing glitazones.
"More than the molecules that we discovered, the big difference we made is that we have gained recognition from the world that we are the front-runners in the field that we have chosen. The mission is to make healthcare affordable and improve the quality of life across the world, regardless of geographic and socio-economic barriers," he says.
Twelve years ago he began the important journey of connecting with society and taking responsibility for human development apart from sustaining a profitable and competitive business. Years later, Dr Reddy has built a benchmark model in this area as he continues to engage himself with sections of society that experience poverty and the lack of opportunity to access sustainable livelihoods.
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