Anji Reddy, Founder of Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Dies

K. Anji Reddy, the founder of India’s second-largest drugmaker, died yesterday. He was 74.

Reddy, who had been ill, died in Hyderabad, the company said in an e-mailed statement, without giving details. Reddy was suffering from liver cancer, the Press Trust of India reported, without saying where it got the information.

Billionaire Reddy, a chemical engineer, founded Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. in 1984, according to the statement. He started funding research with an investment of 60 million rupees ($1.1 million) in 1993 with the goal of making the Hyderabad-based company the first Indian firm to create a drug and sell it globally, Reddy said in an interview in 2006.

“The second line of management that he had created is good enough to take the company forward,” said Surya Narayan Patra, an analyst at Systematix Shares & Stocks Ltd. in Mumbai.

Reddy’s son Satish Reddy is the company’s managing director, while the founder’s son-in-law G.V. Prasad is the vice chairman and chief executive officer of the company.

Reddy, who was conferred India’s third-highest civilian honor, the Padma Bhushan, in 2011, listed Dr. Reddy’s on the New York Stock Exchange in 2001, the first drug company from Asia, excluding Japan, to list on the U.S. bourse.

The company reported record sales of 96.6 billion rupees ($1.8 billion) in the year ended March 31. Larger rival Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. reported revenue of 122.5 billion rupees in the 12 months to Dec. 31

‘Playing God’

“I want to see one of my products being taken by people across the world,” Reddy said in the 2006 interview. “I want to see them improving and leading a better life. It’s like playing God.”

Kallam Anji Reddy spent his early years in the village of Tadepalli in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where his father grew turmeric, an Indian spice. Reddy graduated from the local high school and went on to get a bachelor of science degree from Andhra Christian College in Guntur in 1958.

“In improving access to affordable, high quality medicines and in innovation, his contributions have been extraordinary,” Satish Reddy said in yesterday’s statement.

A native speaker of Telegu, Reddy taught himself English and earned another bachelor’s degree in pharmaceuticals and fine chemicals in 1964 from the University of Bombay, now called the University of Mumbai. He followed that with a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the National Chemical Laboratory in the western city of Pune.

In 1985, Reddy started making methyldopa, an off-patent hypertension drug that Merck had discovered. A year later, Reddy listed his company on the Bombay Stock Exchange and four regional exchanges by selling 1.1 million shares to the public. Reddy’s passion for research led Dr. Reddy’s taking up drug discovery research in 1993 and was the first pharmaceutical company in India to initiate basic drug discovery research.

Reddy served as a member of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Switzerland and the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry.

Reddy is survived by his wife and two children.