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Indian generic industry loses a titan in DG Shah

D G Shah had a larger imprint on the pharma industry than what his job title -- secretary general of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) -- could convey.

twitter-logo E Kumar Sharma        Last Updated: February 22, 2019  | 22:11 IST
Indian generic industry loses a titan in DG Shah

Many in the Indian pharma industry saw Dilip Shah as the voice and resource that the generic pharma industry could always bank upon. Therefore, to most within the industry, the news of his sudden death on Friday morning came as a rude shock. D G Shah, as he was known to many, had a larger imprint on the industry than what his job title -- secretary general of the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) -- could convey. He held this position at the IPA since its founding in October 1999 as an association of eight leading Indian pharmaceutical companies. He left IPA as a body with 22 member companies accounting for 85 per cent and 50 per cent of domestic sales.

The aims of the association, as DG Shah defined them early on, still stand:

  • Partnering the government in the evolution of a patent regime that will, on one hand, meet the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) obligations, and on the other, serve national interest;
  • Engaging the government in constructive dialogue to move to price management from price control regime for the benefit of the consumer; and
  • Working with the government in progressively upgrading regulatory provisions, procedures and standards for harmonisation with those of the developed markets.
His contributions to the Indian generic industry were several. Often, you would see him arrange for meetings of the Indian pharma industry representatives with the officials from the US drug regulator -- US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) -- to help Indian companies get updates on the expectations and regulatory changes from the USFDA.

A much deeper contribution, along with several others, has been in the shaping of the current Indian patent law, which favours affordable medicines, while also recognising the obligations under the TRIPS agreement . His awareness of the industry and what serves India's purpose best and the cause of affordable medicines are seen as evident elements in the submissions he made.  He was also always available to media, government and industry with a focus on promoting what is good for the generic industry of India. Therefore, the debt that the Indian generic industry owes him is not small because its global visibility and the organised form that it has taken, has partly to do with the silent work he had been doing on promoting the Indian generic story.

It is not surprising, therefore, that Raghu Cidambi, who knew D G Shah very well and worked with him on several occasions over the years had this to say: Twenty years ago, few would have believed that the Indian generic industry would become a world leader. Dilip Shah was one of them and he worked tirelessly to better prepare Indian companies to be globally competitive.

Cidambi, who incidently was the former advisor to Dr Reddy's and had also known its founder Kallam Anji Reddy closely, does not recall Shah complaining of any medical illness, earlier or more recently. In a sense, Shah worked till the very end and very recently attended the Business Today pharma round table in Mumbai.

ALSO READ:Pharma veteran DG Shah passed away

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