In 1997, Jayesh Choksi, the present chairman and managing director of Gufic Biosciences made a declaration, “Give me 10 years and I will be back.” Choksi had just sold his branded business which included his most popular brands — Mox (antibiotic) and Zole (antifungal) — to Ranbaxy for Rs.80 crore.
Choksi was exiting the pharma business as India’s move to TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) signaled the arrival of the patent regime and threatened the survival of small and mid-sized pharma companies. MNCs which had hitherto held back investments due to prevalence of process patents were now expected to take the fight to Indian players in a product patent regime.
In 2000, Choksi set up Gufic Biosciences to regain his foothold in the Indian pharma industry. Focusing on herbal and consumer products, Gufic launched over-the-counter (OTC) brands such as Roll-On, Stretch Nil, Onergy (nutritional supplement) and Shapers (sanitary pads). The company had also ventured into hybrid seeds and tissue culture. However, despite these forays, the company’s FY07 topline of Rs.50 crore and net profit of Rs.70 lakh was nothing to boast about.
Choksi clearly was not kicked at the progress his new venture was making as his profit was less than the rental income on his real estate investments. When he sold the earlier business in 1997, it had a topline of Rs.85 crore and a net profit of Rs.5 crore. Ten years hence, Choksi’s attempt at making a comeback was not going anywhere.
It was in 2006, when Choksi called on his son Pranav who was in the United States. Pranav had completed his Masters in biotechnology from John Hopkins University and had just started working in the R&D team of a US pharma company. The idea of moving back to India overnight was not something that enticed Pranav as his career in the US pharma industry had just begun. Finally, after spending a year at the US pharma company, Pranav returned to join Gufic Biosciences in 2007.
When he assumed control, Pranav found that Gufic’s ope