March 16--NEW DELHI/HYDERABAD -- Kallam Anji Reddy, founder-chairman of Dr Reddy's Laboratories Ltd and the pioneer of drug discovery research in India, died on Friday. He was 72 years old.
Anji Reddy, who founded Dr Reddy's in 1984 with Rs.25 lakh in initial capital and built it into India's second largest drug maker with sales of Rs.9,673.7 crore last year, died in a city hospital where he had been admitted earlier this month.
The company said in a statement that he had been ailing for sometime. PTI said he had been suffering from liver cancer.
Anji Reddy is survived by his son Satish Reddy, managing director and chief operating officer of the Hyderabad-based company, and daughter Anuradha, who is married to G.V. Prasad, vice-chairman and chief executive officer (CEO).
Born the son of a turmeric farmer, the scientist-entrepreneur went on to become the elder statesman of the pharma industry. In demeanour, he was always unassuming and self-effacing, belying his stature and the regard in which he was held.
Anji Reddy removed himself from day-to-day management of Dr Reddy's some years ago, taking the back seat to his son and son-in-law, and retired to a quiet life at his farmhouse on the outskirts of Hyderabad where he grew grapes and read Telugu fiction.
Last year, he failed to attend the company's annual general meeting for the first time because of ill health.
Anji Reddy still stayed in touch with the pharma community and kept himself updated on drug research until the very end. Under him, Dr Reddy's in 1993 became the first Indian pharma company to venture into basic drug discovery research, although a big breakthrough proved elusive.
"My passion is drug discovery," Anji Reddy said in an interview with Mint in April 2011. "At this moment, nothing else gives me kicks..."
After obtaining a PhD in chemical engineering from the Pune-based National Chemical Laboratory, Anji Reddy worked in state-run Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd from 1969 to 1975 before turning entrepreneur.
After a couple of early ventures, he founded Dr Reddy's in 1984 to produce and supply bulk drugs, taking advantage of a liberal Indian patent regime that recognized process patents over product patents.
The company started with methyldopa, a hypertension drug, in 1985. Its success was followed by an initial public offering in 1986 that raised Rs.2.46 crore.
A key breakthrough came in 1987, when Dr Reddy's received approval from the US food and drug administration to make the painkiller ibuprofen, opening up that country's market.
"We earned our dollars in a hard way, nobody gave us a feast or gave it on a plate," Anji Reddy said in the 2011 interview with Mint. "We worked hard and we have innovated; we have made things in a better way at a cheaper rate and gave it to the people of India."
Venturing into drug research in 1993 with what he called "a kind of prayer on my lips", the company discovered and licensed an anti-diabetes drug to the world leader in diabetes therapies, Novo Nordisk A/S.
In April 2011, Dr Reddy's be came the first Asia-Pacific pharma firm outside Japan to list on the New York Stock Exchange.
In subsequent years, it had its share of difficulties in drug research and perhaps even plain bad luck.
Its acquisition of Betapharm, the fourth largest generic pharmaceuticals maker in Germany, for a total enterprise value of â‚¬480 million in cash in 2006 didn't work out. Germany shifted to a tender-based system for drug purchases that saw prices dropping, turning the acquisition into a liability.
But Dr Reddy's bounced back last year with a 29% increase in net profit to Rs.1,426.2 crore and a 30% rise in sales to Rs.9,673.7 crore, 80% of which was from exports. The company has a market capitalization of around Rs.31,000 crore.
Anji Reddy was known for his philanthropy. In 1998, he founded the Naandi Foundation as a charitable trust to provide safe drinking water in rural areas and provide mid-day meals to 1.3 million school students and farmers.