INTAS is a very popular and reputed name in pharma industry. Known for its top quality medicines and good oncology research, it has carved a niche for itself in the Pharmaceuticals market.
Mr. Hasmukh Chudgar, the man who laid the foundation for such a company, was kind enough to spare us some time for a heart-to-heart conversation.
Mr. Hasmukh Chudgar graduated from L. M. College of Pharmacy in the batch of 1954, while the Principal of the college was Dr. R. P. Patel. He fondly recollects how LMCP was the first college to offer pharmacy course at the time.
When asked about what led him to the road not taken, he informed us that he lost medical by a mere 2%. However, he doesn’t regret it one bit as he goes on to say that it turned out to be one of the best decisions he has ever made.
During his early years, Mr. Chudgar was living in Mumbai and working for International Pharmaceutical Agency. He said that this name also inspired the name of his current Pharma Giant company, INTAS. He used to market the products of International Pharmaceutical Agency to doctors. This company was initially headed by two partners – and one of the two was an American citizen. After the death of his partner, the latter went back to USA, giving Mr. Chudgar the responsibility of the company.
Mr. Chudgar says that the trend of government funded startups isn’t new. The scheme existed in the older times too. The government gave 100% loans to technicians – 10% of this came from GIIC and the rest was given by GSFC. The working capital would sometimes be given by banks and could be procured. He sighs deeply, and says that rules were simpler back then – now the case is not so.
He recollects and chimes in that the government was desperately trying to make a Pharmaceutical zone but with little avail. So, the land prices were cheap and he was able to buy a huge chunk of it from GIDC for Rs. 500.
In the past, Mr. Chudgar didn’t have an in-house Analytical department and would have to send his medicines to “Ultra labs” to have them analysed. When one of us mused that the time consumed in the process must be a lot, he smiled and said that medicines have a shelf-life of 1 to 3 years. One shouldn’t be in haste of selling their products until they’re sure that their product is safe and meets the best possible standards.
Being a pharmacist, he knew that making top quality medicines was the need of the hour. He believes that only a professional knows that mischief in quality of pharmaceutical products has a heavy impact on healthcare in general.
He laughs and says that his principle is “nai chaale” (“It’s not okay”) when it comes to the accountability of the quality of the manufactured drugs.
Today, INTAS is one of the fastest growing companies with 9 directors on-board. Three of them are his sons – Binish, Nimish and Urmish Chudgar. Two of the directors are Non-Indians.
INTAS manufactures as much as about 10 tons of medicines per day and exports to 50+ countries.
In spite of all the grandeur, he credits a lot of his success to luck and his hard work.
When asked about the current business scene, he remarks that things are expensive nowadays. He’d established his Vatva unit at a total cost of 1.5 lakhs, including the electricity and technical staff required. Now, the estimated cost would be 5 crores in the least. He adds that back then, they had a Loan Licence System wherein one could establish a company under his/her own name while the monetary requirements were still loaned by banks.
While speaking about education in pharmacy, he mentions his feelings about how students should be introduced to technology at a very young age. He talks about important topics such as antibiotic resistance and the constant need of developing new drugs to combat the same. He emphasizes on the need to prevent diseases more than we cure it and talks about how viruses easily catch onto humans from animals.
“I have personally put up a fight in the Supreme Court about open slaughter houses and prevention of diseases. The order was passed after 17 years of the fight,” he says with a sigh.
However, he smiles and continues about how the government (in the era of Indira Gandhi) granted Rs. 100 crore in order for the NIPER to be established. The aim was to push the profession of pharmacy ahead.
He also emphasized the need for better inspection of manufacturing units (as has been implemented by the US-FDA) for a more serious take on patient’s safety.
“The sincerity of the people involved matters,” he says.
He is optimistic about Pharmacy in general and is grateful to his alma mater for the sound knowledge that the college gave him.
As the conversation nears the end, he smiles kindly at us and in his ever-humble air, sees us off as we stand in awe of the alumnus of our college.
We convey our special thanks to honorable principal Dr. Mahesh Chhabria and Mr. Mahendrabhai for arranging the interview.
Interviewers – Tvisha Shah & Vijaykumar Bhavsar
Edited by – Dr. Radhika Pandya & Tvisha Shah