Arun Sawhney, the managing director of Ranbaxy Labs Ltd, doesn’t live in denial, nor does he postpone the admission of lapses. This fundamental trait of his could prove to be an invaluable asset for a company, which still has a few miles to travel before it can be officially declared ‘out of the woods’ in the largest regulated drug market—the US. Sawhney, whom his Ranbaxy colleagues describe as a ‘great listener’ and ‘a people’s person’, joined the firm in May 2008, days before its takeover by Japanese firm Daiichi Sankyo and ascended to the firm’s top post in August 2010—following the abrupt departure of his predecessor—inheriting a swamp of regulatory problems with the mighty US drug regulator. Since then, Sawhney has been loosening bit by bit the tricky regulatory knots that the company found itself entangled in 2008. But that doesn’t prevent him from dreaming up a Ranbaxy, which would emerge as one of the world’s best ‘generics innovator’, five years hence. This he plans to achieve by harnessing creative energies within the company in his five-year tenure, which will run parallel to the consent decree that the company signed with the US government in December 2011. In an interaction with Soma Das and Rishi Raj, Sawhney said that the disruptive four-year period may have reset the clock for the company and delayed its dreams, but Ranbaxy would only emerge much stronger from this experience. Excerpts:
How would you compare life in Ranbaxy under consent decree to life before it?
I think no company should land up in a situation where it has to sign a consent decree. That Ranbaxy did, is unfortunate. But rather than comparing life before and under consent decree, we should focus on life during the consent decree and after it. Getting stuck to what happened in the past would not pay us any dividends, but learning from the past to focus on the future would give us richer dividends. Whether there is consent decree or not, life in Ranbaxy should follow one pattern. If there is certain behaviour that is expected, specific protocols, processes and documentation practices