In the summertime of 2020 because the COVID-19 triggered Pandemic was spreading quick, Dr Yusuf Okay Hamied, Chairman of CIPLA referred to as his longtime buddy and Founding father of Hyderabad based mostly AVRA Labs, Dr A V Rama Rao.
The dialog was about quickly growing an indigenous model of Favipiravir, one of many medicine that was exhibiting promise to test the novel coronavirus and supply aid to sufferers in India.
Dr Rao, with over half a century of expertise in drug analysis in addition to friendship with Dr Hamied took up the duty. In simply over a month thereafter, AVRA Labs did its portion of the job and CIPLA had the drug available in the market.
The Indian Institute of Chemical Expertise (IICT), Hyderabad too collectively labored with CIPLA to carry out the Favipiravir model.
For the 2 leaders within the Indian Pharma sector, each Padma Bhushans, it was a form of quick replay of their efforts find low value, indigenous, anti retrovirals (ARVs) to regulate the epidemic of HIV/AIDS within the 1990’s.
After CIPLA led the best way by producing inexpensive ARVs, a number of Indian majors like Aurobindo, Cadilla, Hetero, Lupin, Solar Pharma and many others., produced a variety of medicine that helped poor nations in Africa, Asia and India to handle the epidemic since 2000.
The very best half is their zeal, power and dedication to seek out options for each nationwide curiosity and know-how challenges. Each are of their eighties. The 1936 born Hamied, a scientist-businessman leads one in every of India’s high and revered Pharma main, CIPLA, based in 1935 by his father, Yusuf Khwaja Hamied.
Dr Alla Venkata Rama Rao, who shall be 86 on April 2, is the Founder Managing Director of AVRA Labs, which is a pioneer and main title in outsourced R&D work for the worldwide drug giants, in addition to Indian.
A full 25 years/quarter century after retirement from the IICT beneath the Council of Scientific Industrial Analysis (CSIR), Hyderabad his zeal for analysis and contributing to industrial development and IP continues, although a bit slowed down with age.
The IICT Transformation
Someday throughout 1984-85, the UK Science Journal ‘Nature’ did a particular function on Indian Science & Expertise. Referring to the Indian Institute of Chemical Expertise (IICT), then the Regional Analysis Laboratory (RRL), Hyderabad, it noticed that the ‘Institute was an excellent instance of how simple it was to open a Scientific Laboratory in India, however how tough to Shut.’
A tough hitting remark by any requirements for the RRL, which was began round 1944. The Lab bought strengthened with Dr Hussain Zaheer as the primary, full fledged Director after Independence. He later grew to become the Director-Basic of the mum or dad, Council for Scientific and Industrial Analysis (CSIR).
The RRLs mandate was to help within the development of the area by growing applied sciences and transferring them to catalyse industrial development. Related Labs have been began in Jammu, Jorhat, Trivandrum and Bhopal too.
Nonetheless, in 1994-95, the identical Nature journal revisited Indian Science & Expertise. It’s evaluate this time was that the IICT was among the many best, performing Lab within the nation.
The person and the management credited with bringing about this dramatic change/turnaround was Dr A V Rama Rao. A Chemist of reputation, he was posted as Director of the RRL, Hyderabad in very testing occasions. He rose to the challenges and made a mark throughout his decade lengthy tenure between 1985 and 1995.
I met Dr Rao, the primary time in 1985 to do a report on a drug that the RRL had developed, transferred know-how to Unichem, but it surely had failed available in the market. He was forthright, answered questions and regarded decided.
Inside months, his no nonsense angle and hard measures to vary the work tradition and analysis focus bought him into powerful conditions. He sorted out the troubles with Unions, sacked some staff and confronted the wrath. However in three years, the Lab bought rechristened because the IICT and emerged among the many high Institutes doing Chemical analysis and know-how transfers.
Turns entrepreneur at 60
Having put the IICT among the many high Labs inside the CSIR and introduced industrial consideration globally, Dr Rama Rao, didn’t relaxation on the laurels. As a substitute, he took to entrepreneurship and began AVRA Labs instantly in 1995. The main target was on tapping the alternatives within the rising, international outsourced R&D work. Ranging from kilo grams scale within the small facility in Hyderabad, AVRA Labs at this time has manufacturing items in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam for APIs & drug intermediates too.
The impetus to organising AVRA Labs got here from G D Searle Labs and CytoMed, each the businesses gave near a complete of $250,000 in 1995-96 to begin off on contract tasks. “I too had the dedication to do one thing by myself,” recollects Dr Rao.
The important thing to the success behind Dr Rama Rao are twofold. He did excellent analysis work on the NCL & IICT. He obtained 30 patents, produced over 100 PhDs and transferred over 50 applied sciences to trade.
Concurrently, his engagement with international trade helped him in gaining experience in not solely know-how and formulation however coping with the medical doctors, scientific trials, regulators and enterprise practises.
That’s why Avra Laboratories has the Vinca rosea petals (the Periwinkle flower) as its brand. The complete course of of Vinblastine growth was achieved by Dr Rao in 1980.
Run as a company enterprise enterprise, Avra Laboratories offers companies from course of applied sciences and synthesis of recent chemical entities for the world’s main drug firms like GD Searle, Pfizer and Bristol-Myers Squibb, India’s Cipla, Dr Reddy’s, Lupin to the newest COVID19 medicine.
His son, Dr Chandra Rama Rao, a doctorate from Cambridge is the Director in addition to his son in legislation, R Ramakrishna, previously of Dr Reddy’s as a Director too, to develop the corporate.
The early years
Ranging from humble beginnings, Dr Rao was one of many 9 siblings of a authorities worker from Guntur in Andhra Pradesh. He was a median pupil, graduating from the AC Faculty, however Chemistry excited him.
He managed to achieve UDCT, Mumbai, did MSc in Chemistry. Attending to know of the nice Chemistry Professor, Okay Venkatraman, he labored his approach to the Nationwide Chemical Laboratory (NCL), Pune, turn out to be his PhD pupil and accomplished it in a file time of three and half years.
In 1965, he grew to become Scientist B on the NCL. For the following decade, his work on chemistry of pure merchandise led to the isolation of 100 new compounds from vegetation and bugs, which additionally translated into 75 analysis publications.
Nonetheless, realising the necessity for additional research, Dr Rao landed up at Harvard College with a two 12 months stint at the most effective natural labs. In 1975, he labored with EJ Corey (a Nobel Laureate). “We labored on the anti-cancer medicine by vinblastine and vincristine,” he mentioned
Somasekhar Mulugu, former Affiliate Editor & Chief of Bureau of The Hindu BusinessLine, is a well known political, enterprise and science author and analyst based mostly in Hyderabad.