Sun Pharmaceuticals needs no introduction: it’s the largest Indian pharma company, the 5th largest in the US, and the biggest Indian pharma company in emerging markets. It has 47 manufacturing sites, presence in 150 countries, and a portfolio of 2,000-plus products.
Among the most low-profile pharma bosses in India, Dilip Shanghvi founded Sun Pharma in 1983 with a two-man marketing team and a small manufacturing facility to make psychiatric drugs and capsules at Vapi, Gujarat. Since then it has been a story of small victories adding up to a big win. Known for his vision and business acumen, Shanghvi focused his attention and meagre resources on creating a portfolio of niche generic drugs which were not a priority for others because of their low revenue earning potential. In the 1980s and 1990s, when his bigger Indian rivals were taking on multinational drug makers in established categories with assistance from India’s new patents regime, Shanghvi focused on specialty and chronic therapies such as psychiatry, cardiovascular, neurology, oncology and dermatology. This strategy paid off handsomely as urbanisation and lifestyle diseases grew exponentially. Also, Sun Pharma was one of the first Indian companies to focus on brands, pricing and a strong sales and distribution network. Smart bold acquisitions and a unique ability to turn around co