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Arena Science e Robin Hood of pharma Dr Yusuf Khwaja Hamied’s stance against monopoly and profi teering have made him infamous among pharmaceutical companies worldwide, as he works hard to make medicine affordable in developing countries Ekaterina Bystrova It was during World War II that leading pharmaceutical company Cipla helped win India’s independence – but that would not be the company’s crowning achievement. Cipla would go on to defi ne India as the ‘pharma capital of the world’ and save millions of lives, helping to establish access to medicine as a fundamental human right. It is not an overstatement when company chairman Dr Yusuf Khwaja Hamied says: “For more than 75 years, we have made medicines and history.” In 1935, India, under British control, was completely dependent upon imported medicines that were frequently unavailable and rarely affordable. It was then that the current Cipla chairman’s father, Dr Khwaja Abdul Hamied, set up what was initially called Chemical, Industrial and Pharmaceutical Laboratories – today’s Cipla. His vision: to make India self-suffi cient. Hamied got his chance to do just that four years later when Mahatma Gandhi approached him with a request to supply the British with medicines during World War II, with Britain promising to grant India independence in exchange for its co-operation. The chairman agreed, bartering trauma, malaria and other medication for the country’s independence, which was delivered in 1947. But Cipla still faced considerable setbacks. Due to archaic patent laws left over from colonial rule, India was unable to manufacture the active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), otherwise known as ‘bulk drugs’, and formulations that were desperately needed. When the founder’s son and present chairman, Dr Yusuf Khwaja Hamied, returned from his PhD studies in Cambridge, England, in 1960, it became clear to him that something had to change. Frustrated at these restrictions, he helped form the Indian Drug Manufacturers Association (IDMA) to rally for change. “Even after independence, and right up till the 1970s, the multinationals ruled the pharma industry with their high-priced drugs, and nobody was bothered,” says Hamied. “Then in the 1960s we 42 l www.global -br ief ing.org f i rst quar ter 2014 global


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