Kallam Anji Reddy, founder of drug maker Dr Reddy's Laboratories, who passed away in March 2013, was a scientist at heart. Drug discovery was arguably his biggest passion. But though he built Dr Reddy's into a $2.2-billion company, the second largest in India in terms of revenue after Sun Pharma-Ranbaxy, bringing a new molecule to the market eluded him.
Over the years, Dr Reddy's also tweaked its business model and its primary focus now is on complex generics that are difficult to make and differentiated formulations and biosimilars that have limited competition in key markets like the US. What is little known is that Anji Reddy's passion never died and around three years before his death he set up another company, Kareus Therapeutics, using his personal funds, solely to pursue research. "My father set up Kareus Therapeutics in his personal capacity. It is separate from Dr Reddy's," says K. Satish Reddy, Anji Reddy's son and current Chairman of Dr Reddy's.
The core team of Kareus - the name is derived from the founder's - includes a biologist, a chemist and a pharmacologist. The company has five new molecules in the pipeline. Its focus at the moment is on new cures for diseases of the central nervous system, diabetes and chronic pain.
"Kareus has advanced two molecules in clinic in a relatively short span," says its website. The first, KU-046, intended as an antidote for Alzheimer's and multiple sclerosis, has completed its Phase I trial and will start Phase II trials from the third quarter of the current year. The second, KU-5039, focused on diabetes, is undergoing its Phase I trial.
According to Kareus's website, the company runs on a lean business model. It has an extensive network with global contract research organisations with whom it has been working with for many years. "This gives us flexibility to access the best technologies in the world without boundaries," it says.
In an interview in December 2005, Anji Reddy had told Business Today: "The spirit of adventure is very important." The setting up of Kareus shows he meant it.