Anji Reddy, a pharmaceutical industry pioneer who helped establish India’s reputation as a supplier of inexpensive medicines to the world, died in Hyderabad on Friday after a prolonged illness. He was 72 and battling cancer.
The company he founded and chaired, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories, is India’s second-largest pharmaceutical company by market capitalisation (Rs.31,000 crore) and the first to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2001. He also founded a string of charities that work in the areas of education, healthcare and providing livelihoods.
Anji Reddy is survived by a son and a daughter. His son Satish Reddy is the managing director and chief operating officer of the company. GV Prasad, the son-in-law, is the vice-chairman and CEO of Dr Reddy’s Laboratories.
The promoters own a little over 25% of Dr Reddy’s, and the bulk of their ownership is through the family-owned APS Trust.
An employee of the public sector Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals, Anji Reddy resigned from the company in 1984 to set up Dr Reddy’s Laboratories with a capital of Rs.25 lakh. The company, whose turnover in 2011-12 was Rs.7,000 crore, began by making the ingredients that go into making drugs. But Anji Reddy’s aim was always to be an innovator of new medicines. He created the Dr Reddy’s Research Foundation in 1993 to help the company’s drug discovery programme and established an elaborate R&D organisation in Cambridge, United Kingdom, under Chirotech Technology.
For someone who had his first brush with modern technology — in the form of electricity — at age 12, Anji Reddy took to it effortlessly. Even decades later, when he had made his billions and helped make India self-reliant in the area of bulk drugs, he never failed to stress the importance of research. But research solely for the sake of profits was not his cup of tea — he believed in affordability. The son of a turmeric farmer in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, Reddy quickly grasped the fact that if he had to make a difference
through his company, it would be by cutting costs and making medicines accessible to all.
After doing his B.Sc (Tech) from the University Department of Chemical Technology (Mumbai University) — whose alumni also include Mukesh Ambani and IA Modi of Cadila — Reddy joined IDPL, where he worked for six years.
The first generic drug to be exported by Dr Reddy’s first was methyldopa, used to treat hypertension. In 1997, Dr Reddy’s Balaglitazone to treat diabetes became the first new chemical entity from India. It was licensed out to Novo Nordisk but the Danish company returned it and phase three trials were completed in 2010.