We at the Association for Accessible Medicines are proud of our rich heritage. The pioneers who forged our industry deserve to be heralded. Some are still with us; some are gone. Please keep reading about them and their contributions to society.
I am optimistic about the future because we have proven ourselves under challenging conditions.
As a teen, he helped run his family’s modest farm. Today, his company empowers community farms to boost productivity by using best agriculture practices. As an aspiring entrepreneur, he scraped together enough capital to start a small drug company. Today, his company provides affordable medicines to patients in 155 countries around the globe. As a young executive, he invested hours in managing the business. Today, he invests his time in helping others.
He is P.V. Ramprasad Reddy. His company is Aurobindo.
Ramprasad was born in Andhra Pradesh, a state in the south-eastern coastal region of India. He learned from his parents early in life the value of hard work, loyalty and diligence. He attended Venkateshwara University, earning both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Commerce. Upon graduation, he began his career as a case manager in an accounting firm and soon was promoted to Director for Commercial.
But Ramprasad had his mind set on starting his own company. So in 1986, he teamed up with college pal Nityananda Reddy to pursue the venture. Nityananda had studied chemistry at Venkateshwara and had pharma experience. After pulling together sufficient seed money Ramprasad and Nityananda co-founded Aurobindo Pharma Ltd. By 1992, the company had become publicly traded and was making its way up the list of leading generic manufacturers. Today, Aurobindo has a global workforce of 24,000, manufactures 40 billion doses of prescription drugs annually and is one of the world’s top five generic companies.
Even as the daily responsibilities of running the business grew more time consuming, Ramprasad never lost sight of his passion to make prescription medicine affordable and accessible to those in need. In 2006, Ramprasad’s commitment caught the eye of then-United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who was leading international efforts to halt the spread of AIDS in Africa. Annan had set a goal of universal access to HIV/AIDS medicines by 2010 and was meeting regularly with executives from the large brand drug companies to advance programs aimed at achieving the mission. But he soon realized that universal access would not be possible without generic company engagement. At the next meeting with pharma, held in July 2006, Ramprasad Reddy was at the table. He had been personally invited by Secretary-General Annan, marking the first time the generics industry was asked to help in the UN AIDS effort.
While Ramprasad is highly respected as an industry leader—World Pharmaceutical Frontiers lists him among the top 35 most influential people in pharmaceuticals—he is not comfortable talking about his successes. Bob Cunard, former CEO of Aurobindo Pharma USA, described Ramprasad as a leader whose “strategic vision, insight and operational expertise is perfectly complemented by an extremely humble demeanor.” A former colleague said Ramprasad’s unassuming personality reflects his genuine respect for each person he meets. This modest persona was featured in a July 2015 Business Today article “Eight entrepreneurs who built empires away from limelight.”1
Although much of the daily management on Aurobindo is now in the hands of others, Ramprasad still is involved as a non-executive director, leading the company's strategic planning initiatives. And he continues to help drive the critical humanitarian efforts for which he is known and respected. Bettering health care for children in underserved areas, helping rural unemployed youth become employable, promoting education, funding housing programs for seniors and orphans, empowering women to increase their income levels. These are the good deeds that make Ramprasad Reddy a hero.
For all you have done and continue to do, we say, “Thank you!” Mr. Ramprasad Reddy.
By Bob Billings. Active in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 25 years, Bob held various positions at the Generic Pharmaceutical Association (now the Association for Accessible Medicines) from 2007 through June 2015, including Interim President and Executive Director. | Published on December 14, 2021
Read more from our series on the founders of generic medicines
- Kanu Patel
- Eli Hurvitz
- Jean Hoffman
- Mike Puskar
- Rep. Henry Waxman
- Carole Ben-Maimon
- Desh Bandhu Gupta
- Agnes Varis
- Bill Haddad
- Sharma, E., Jayakumar, P., Babu, V. “Eight Entrepreneurs Who Built Huge Pharma Business Away from Limelight.” Business Today. July 5 2015.