Success Story behind Zydus Cadila, developer of ZyCoV-D

Cadila Healthcare recently announced the success of its ZyCOV-D (Zydus Cadila) vaccine in its first round of plasmid DNA vaccine. Here is the story of Pankaj Patel, chairman of Cadila Healthcare Ltd. ensuing the blueprint of enabling domestic medicines to a worldwide echelon of reality.

The Origin

Zydus Cadila, Gujarat based pharmaceutical company was founded by Ramanbhai Patel along with his partner, Indravadan Modi in 1952. The company was initiated in a novel, post-colonial India with a meager capital of 25,000 rupees in hopes of flourishing it to an indigenous giant providing innovative, research-based medicines across the country.

After the independence, pharmaceutical companies from abroad got a passage to the Indian market. Meanwhile, local drug companies leveraged this phenomenon and began purchasing drugs in bulk. This resulted in massive revenue growth from Rs 10 crore in 1947 to Rs 35 crore five years later.

A chemistry lecturer, Ramanbhai saw massive potential in the pharma sector and established his set-up to meet the demands for affordable vitamins to treat anaemia. Alongside, he continued to teach to meet the financial needs of the family.

In 1953, their first product, Prednisolone was priced at merely Re 1, almost seven times cheaper than their competitors in the market. The price shocked many who believed that the drug was not original.

The Black Horse

An average individual might not be familiar with the pharma tycoon but one is undoubtedly familiar with the well-known products that Patel has presented under Cadila’s name. This includes the ‘sugar-free’ commonly used by diabetic patients and ‘everyuth’ face wash; besides hundreds of medicines produced under the same label. Of late, the firm had also taken up the challenge of manufacturing the H1N1 Vaccine against Swine Flu, which hit the Indian market recently.

The Growth Story

Patel was met by a new challenge when the company split between the sons of the two founders in 1995. Zydus Cadila which came under Patel’s share, at that time had a net worth of Rs. 200 crores while the overhead cost was estimated at Rs. 400 crores. In an interview with Chitralekha, Patel had revealed that he saw the challenge as an “opportunity” to boost the company’s turnover to Rs. 1000 crores by the year 2000. He adopted the Strategic Business Unit (SBU) concept which was not popular among other business empires at the time and lucratively enough, managed to deliver a turnover of 1000 crores by 2000.

Without halting, he subsequently propagated the idea of taking Cadila to a global stature among his workforce. Today, the pharmaceutical has its roots in about 50 countries across that globe – hence, materializing the dream that Ramanbhai Patel had chartered decades ago.

Cadila’s growth has significantly contributed to the augmentation of the domestic medicine industry in terms of research and development. The drugs which were previously formulated in a foreign market followed by their sale in Indian markets are now being produced by national pharmaceutical companies and are at par with their international counterparts. Patel has an unwavering faith in the capabilities of Indian scientists and claims the focus of Cadila Healthcare has always persisted in “Research & development” in the field.

COVID-19 Vaccine : In the frontline to save the world

On February 15th, Patel announced the development of Zydus Cadila’s vaccine against COVID-19. The virus has so far claimed the lives of about 40,000 people and infected 2 million people across the nation with an uncompromising growth in the daily number of cases globall

According to Patel, Cadila’s vaccine uses a unique technology that works against the viral membrane protein which is responsible for the spread of the virus inside human cells.

“The plasmid DNA is introduced into the host cells, where it is translated into the viral protein and elicits a strong immune response mediated by the cellular and humoral arms of the human immune system. This plays a vital role in protection from disease as well as viral clearance,” said Patel in an interview with The Print.

The company has previously generated a range of successful vaccines indigenously against measles, mumps, hepatitis A, while thousands of scientists at Zydus are currently underway to create a reliable Coronavirus vaccine.

“Ours is the latest technology for vaccine development based on DNA platform. The DNA-based vaccine does not need a COVID strain, unlike the inactivated vaccines that require viruses in killed or inactivated forms,” Patel informed further.

Cadila Healthcare recently announced the success of its ZyCOV-D vaccine in its first round of plasmid DNA vaccine. The results proved that the vaccine is “safe” and “well-tolerated” in the first phase of the clinical trials.

The technology used by Zydus Cadila allegedly provides scope for modification in case the virus mutates in the following weeks.

Phase 2 of the vaccine includes about 1,000 healthy adult volunteers as part of the Adaptive Phase I/ II dose-escalation, multicentric, randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled study which is set to start from August 6.

The new developing vaccine is additionally said to have shown considerable stability, making it viable to be delivered to remote areas of the nation.

Investors darling and the Humble Billionaire

Zydus Cadila as of 2019, has a net worth of about US$220 million along with a team of over 13,000 members working in the group. The shares of the company have rocketed to nearly 2 percent in early trades on BSE at ₹409.60, since the announcement of Phase 1 of COVID-19 vaccine results.

Pankaj R Patel was featured in the famous Forbes magazine in 2019 and is ranked India’s 44th richest man with a net worth of 9954 crores.

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