Cover Story | Open Minds 2020: A Race Against Time
Pankaj Patel, 67, Chairman, Zydus Cadila
31 Jul, 2020
For a businessman who is considered exceptionally lowkey, there has been no keeping Pankaj Patel away from the news during this pandemic. When the world first began to seek hydroxychloroquine, Patel ramped up production to become one of the largest suppliers of the drug. Next month, he comes out with his version of the current in-demand drug Remdesivir. A few weeks ago, he sprung a surprise. His company, essentially a generic drugs manufacturer, was going to begin human trials for a Covid-19 vaccine. This isn’t the first time he has surprised people. Ten years ago, he seemingly came out of nowhere, beating purely vaccine manufacturing companies to manufacture the first Indian-made H1N1 vaccine. He took over the company set up by his father—a chemistry teacher-turned-drug manufacturer who began making vitamin tablets a few years after Independence—and turned around its fortunes in the noughties by acquiring other firms and bringing out a range of new drugs. With a potential Covid-19 vaccine, he could take Indian pharma business into the next league.