When the bourses closed last evening, Amit Bakshi was worth Rs 3,225 crore and Eris Lifesciences, a pharmaceutical company he founded 10 years ago, became a legitimate unicorn. The most profitable, fastest-growing pharma company in five years with the handsomest return on capital employed—the descriptors have been glowing, even as the industry prospects have dimmed of late. The Indian pharma index has been consistently down since 2016, its first decline in five years. And the pall of the US regulatory inspections and warnings hang heavy on all exporting companies.

“No sane person could have done a pharma IPO today,” Bakshi told me soon after the issue closed on 20 June. “Imagine if this [IPO] was done seven-eight months ago, the amount of explanation I’ve had to offer would have been only 10%. Now, everyone wanted 2X-3X understanding because the times are not crazy.”

Bakshi has diluted only 0.5% of his stake so, in his own words, it doesn’t make “much difference” to his life. (Except it has made him richer by Rs 41.45 crore.) Conversely, though, it makes a difference to the pharmaceutical sector, which has not seen a company grow from scratch to this scale in a span of 10 years. Except perhaps for Mankind Pharma, which is now 21 years old.

Eris makes specialty drugs, which is a subset of the crowded branded generics market. Close to 200,000 brands sell in the Indian market of which brands yielding more than Rs 10 lakh in annual sales are just about 70,000-80,000. That’s still crowded considering how they jostle for a few minutes of attention in a doctor’s clinic. Into that space, Bakshi made an entry in 2007 with an eye for spotting product gaps and launching new brands in chronic diseases like cardiology, diabetes gastroenterology and others. As much as 96% of its prescriptions are written by specialists, even today. In 2012, when I spoke with him for a special edition of Hidden Gems in Forbes India, Bakshi was indeed hidden. Reticent, and somewhat shy, he admitted it was his first media interaction ever. He says he was discovering the product differentiation then, he has “mastered it” now.

I have done no networth calculation. When I was on the road shows, at one point I felt it was too good to believe

Amit Bakshi

Going public was a decision, guided not by the company’s need for funds but the private equity investor, ChrysCapital’s need for an exit. The existing fund was nearing its end, and Chrys had to raise a new fund. Moreover, secondary sales are not always possible, and strategic sales, another exit option, happen only when the investor has substantial equity in the company, says Sunil Thakur, director and chief operating officer at Quadria Capital, which has multiple investments in pharma.


Seema Singh

Seema has over two decades of experience in journalism. Before starting The Ken, Seema wrote “Myth Breaker: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw and the Story of Indian Biotech”, published by HarperCollins in May 2016. Prior to that, she was a senior editor and bureau chief for Bangalore with Forbes India, and before that she wrote for Mint. Seema has written for numerous international publications like IEEE-Spectrum, New Scientist, Cell and Newsweek. Seema is a Knight Science Journalism Fellow from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a MacArthur Foundation Research Grantee.

View Full Profile

Available exclusively to subscribers of The Ken India

This story is a part of The Ken India edition. Subscribe. Questions?


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 200+ stories, archive of 800+ stories from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 2,750


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 60+ new stories with 3-months worth of archives from our India edition. Plus our premium newsletters, Beyond The First Order and The Nutgraf worth Rs. 99/month or $2/month each for free.

Rs. 1,750


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

Rs. 500


Annual Subscription

12-month access to 150+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 120


Quarterly Subscription

3-month access to 35+ stories from Southeast Asia.

$ 50


Single Story

Instant access to this story for a year along with comment privileges.

$ 20



What is The Ken?

The Ken is a subscription-only business journalism website and app that provides coverage across two editions - India and Southeast Asia.

What kind of stories do you write?

We publish sharp, original and reported stories on technology, business and healthcare. Our stories are forward-looking, analytical and directional — supported by data, visualisations and infographics.

We use language and narrative that is accessible to even lay readers. And we optimise for quality over quantity, every single time.

What do I get if I subscribe?

For subscribers of the India edition, we publish a new story every weekday, a premium daily newsletter, Beyond The First Order and a weekly newsletter - The Nutgraf.

For subscribers of the Southeast Asia edition, we publish a new story three days a week and a weekly newsletter, Strait Up.

The annual subscription will get you complete, exclusive access to our archive of previously published stories for your edition, along with access to our subscriber-only mobile apps, our premium comment sections, our newsletter archives and several other gifts and benefits.

Do I need to pay separately for your premium newsletters?

Nope. Paid, premium subscribers of The Ken get our newsletters delivered for free.

Does a subscription to the India edition grant me access to Southeast Asia stories? Or vice-versa?

Afraid not. Each edition is separate with its own subscription plan. The India edition publishes stories focused on India. The Southeast Asia edition is focused on Southeast Asia. We may occasionally cross-publish stories from one edition to the other.

Do you offer an all-access joint subscription for both editions?

Not yet. If you’d like to access both editions, you’ll have to purchase two subscriptions separately - one for India and the other for Southeast Asia.

Do you offer any discounts?

No. We have a zero discounts policy.

Is there a free trial I can opt for?

We don’t offer any trials, but you can sign up for a free account which will give you access to the weekly free story, our archive of free stories and summaries of the paid stories. You can stay on the free account as long as you’d like.

Do you offer refunds?

We allow you to sample our journalism for free before signing up, and after you do, we stand by its quality. But we do not offer refunds.

I am facing some trouble purchasing a subscription. What can I do?

Please write to us at support@the-ken.com detailing the error or queries.