Medicines are not luxury but basic necessity: Arjun Deshpande, founder of Ratan Tata-backed Generic Aadhaar | The Financial Express

Medicines are not luxury but basic necessity: Arjun Deshpande, founder of Ratan Tata-backed Generic Aadhaar

‘After getting impressed by Generic Aadhaar’s mission, Ratan Tata backed the venture.’

Arjun Deshpande, Generic Aadhaar, ratan tata, medical shops, affordable medicine
'Generic Aadhaar’s work started receiving a very positive response and demand from people.'

Pharmaceutical Industry has become integral to the global response to the pandemic since the past 2 years as they were the responsible sector and warriors for the whole world. But the future of pharma is digital. Technological innovation is the backbone of the growing pharma industry and as per the study soon it will grow to 65 $ billion in the next 3-4 years.

As we all know the prices of medicines have been touching the sky. Generic Aadhaar claims that it is providing medicines at an 80% discount which is affordable to every class of masses. The team behind Generic Aadhaar says that they have set a goal of opening the generic Aadhaar in every nook and corner and providing medicines at a reasonable cost to 130 crore Indians. Generic Aadhaar is the brainchild of a 16-year-old prodigy Arjun Deshpande who spoke with’s Tarun Bhardwaj about providing affordable medicine, their plans and more. Excerpts: 

How do you think the pharmaceutical industry has performed in the past 2 years?

In the last 2 years, the pharmaceutical industry became integral to the global response to the covid pandemic. They were the responsible sector and warriors for the whole world. The pharma industry has seen a rapid rise in the past three years as the demand and needs increase. Rapid digitization and advanced research in the field have opened doors for many ways of treatment for mankind.  

It is working on improving the entire spectrum of healthcare. Not just people from this field’s background but from various sectors are interested to enter into this business.

Even Generic Aadhaar gave jobs to thousands of people and supported them to start their own businesses by giving them medical franchises in this dire situation. Providing life-saving medicines and other medications was a need of the hour. 

The future of pharma is digital. Technological innovation is the backbone of the growing pharma industry and as per the study soon it will grow to 65 $ billion in the next 3-4 years.

 How is Generic Aadhaar streamlining the cluttered Indian Pharmaceutical Industry?

I believe medicines are not a luxury but a basic necessity. To enter into an already well-established web of pharma companies and start from scratch is itself a big challenge. For many years the world’s largest MNC companies have been selling drugs at exorbitant prices and people were not even aware of it. As such, Generic Aadhaar has come forward to curb the illicit trade in life-saving drugs and provide low-cost drugs to the people by disrupting the conventional pharma industry. It is determined to empower single-store owners and pass on the benefit to the end customer.

As our people are struggling with a costly healthcare system in India, our clear motto of Generic Aadhaar is to Support the Common Man’s Monthly Medicine Budget by providing life-saving High-Quality medicines at very affordable prices. Realizing the gravity of the situation, he established Generic Aadhaar to deliver high-quality medicine at up to 80% off from manufacturers to end-users directly, eliminating middle-chain costs such as marketing, distribution, stocking, and supply chain through a unique pharmacy-aggregator business model. 

We are bringing all small mom-and-pop medical stores which are roughly around more than ten lakhs and are losing their business in the market because of huge competition under one roof of our Brand to help them and to support their business growth with huge profits. It is aggregating the stand-alone pharmacy to compete with big retail medical malls and an online pharmacy. I believe that young entrepreneurs can change the Indian economy, hence we are giving them opportunities to start their own businesses. 

What made you venture into business at such a tender age and why did you choose the pharmacy sector? What were your initial investments in building up the company?

I never started with the intention of starting a business or entering into the pharma field. At the age of 16, I saw a burning problem which made me realize that even though our country is a hub of manufacturers and suppliers of medicines, our own people have to spend a lot of money on essential medicines. I didn’t let age come between my innovative ideas. 

As I always say,” start a start-up, build an organization’ 

It all started when I encountered an old man at a medical store to buy some errands, and there I met an old man, around 70-75years old. He was requesting the owner to pay the bill later as the medicines were highly expensive but the owner refused as the man was already in debt. When I asked him the problem he revealed how his wife was suffering from cancer and his son being the only bread earner is not able to afford the daily expensive medicines. That’s when I realized how the common man was burdened with paying bills for basic necessities like medicines. This life-threatening problem made me determined to act on his plan during the initial days of his deep research in the pharma sector. 

A problem will always lead to a solution. At such a young age I did not have enough money to supply medicines to the common people at an affordable rate. At such a time, I decided to take the local retail stores that have already gone to losses by the hand and support their business as well. As a result, medicines were being provided to the people and the business of medical stores was also given a boost due to branding.

Other than financial investments I invested intangible resources of time, dedication, a strong will to do impactful innovation and creativity as an investment. Now we are reforming the old traditional Pharma world by bringing a colourful revolution in the pharma industry.

How did you manage to gain trust from the manufacturers and how do you manage the huge margin cost compared to other pharmacy stores? 

The manufacturer supplies medicines at the same price to any MNC’s or pharma company. However, these companies sell after putting their own branding on these same drugs to the end customer at a higher price. But Generic Aadhaar sells the same drug at the same price it buys. When we showed this difference to the manufacturer, they were immediately ready to be a part of this noble mission to provide medicines to the common man at an affordable rate. As we started growing, the manufacturers themselves became eager to work for the Generic Aadhaar. 

How did Ratan Tata come onboard with Generic Aadhaar and currently how is he involved in the company?

Generic Aadhaar’s work started receiving a very positive response and demand from people. It created a lot of buzz on various social media and other media platforms. I got felicitated on many national and international platforms such as numerous IITs, CPhI, black book Germany, TEDx, and many more where I created a lot of awareness about my motive through talks. At that time, it caught the attention of honourable Business Icon Mr. Ratan Tata who got impressed with the venture and the motive behind it.

Ratan Tata sir quoted “Arjun if this venture succeeds it can change the entire healthcare ecosystem for the betterment of India.” We share the same mission and want to serve every person in India. 

As per his involvement, he is my mentor who also guided me when Generic Aadhaar was about to make its entry into the digital world. Generic Aadhaar did a grand launching of a mobile application in the presence of Mr. Ratan Tata. The common man can order the medicine at the same discount and it reaches within one hour to their doorstep from the nearest shop of the location.

I feel fortunate to have such a business legend’s guidance and inspiration for my venture journey through which we both are changing the lives of millions for the betterment of the nation.

Arjun Deshpande at Generic Aadhaar store in Mulund East

Geographically, which all states & territories are you currently present in? Any plans for international expansion?

Generic Aadhaar has its presence in every state in India.  They have created micro-entrepreneurs in every corner of our country including metropolitan cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, etc. as well as remote villages like Birbhum, Kusheshwar Asthan, Chidambaram, Mhow, etc. They are expanding from Jammu to Kanyakumari and from Kutch to Arunachal Pradesh. Generic Aadhaar has its franchise in 150+ cities with a portfolio of 1000+ products. Generic Aadhaar has created direct and indirect employment for around 8000 people.

Generic Aadhaar’s demand has reached even neighbouring countries of India such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, UAE, etc. Generic Aadhaar is reaching to each and every nook and corner of India to serve the common man of our nation.  

How well established are you in Tier -3 and 4 markets? Any plans to partner up with hospitals?

Every giant company is working for metropolitan cities. But Generic Aadhaar is reaching to the roots of our nation that is rural and remote villages where healthcare service is needed of the hour.

Generic Aadhaar has made its service available in almost every metropolitan city. But I believe that real India starts from 50 km away from the city which is a rural and remotest village considered as a Tier-3, Tier 4 village. If we want to develop our nation it is important to pay attention to those places that have been ignorant for ages and needed this service more. Generic Aadhaar has reached the places where even google hasn’t reached yet to provide its service for the underprivileged people and it is the 1st medical store to be opened in many remote villages to provide all kinds of medicines at a very reasonable price. 

Generic Aadhaar has already given franchises to many hospitals. They have kept free health check-up camps to spread awareness. Not just hospitals but many doctors have taken the Generic Aadhaar franchise and supported this noble cause. 

How much funds have you raised so far? Are you planning to raise more funds considering the no. of pharmacy stores you have planned to invest in? What are your growth plans for the next 3 years?

After getting impressed by Generic Aadhaar’s mission, Ratan Tata backed the venture. In just 3 years’ span, Generic Aadhaar has grown in such a way that it has a culture of sustainability by operating a business that is in perpetual motion. It is based on action-oriented goals that produce a continuous return on investment. After putting up an initial investment in Generic Aadhaar, it has resulted in a sustainable and profitable business. 

Today Generic Aadhaar has extended to 150+cities across India but we are planning to reach every corner including Urban Cities and Rural areas where it’s much needed. It will mark its presence in 300+ cities by the end of the year 2022. In the next 3 years, Generic Aadhaar will make its promising presence all across India by onboarding 15000 stores and creating the same number of micro-entrepreneurs. 

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First published on: 05-03-2022 at 15:59 IST