For family-run businesses in India’s healthcare sector, there has never been a let-up in their day-to-day challenges. However, despite the ups and downs in the business environment, many of them have continued to achieve new highs.

The Chennai-based Apollo Hospitals is a classic example. The giant hospital chain, founded by first-generation entrepreneur Prathap C. Reddy in 1983 as the first corporate healthcare provider in the country, has expanded into pharmacy, telemedicine, and other related businesses. Reddy’s four daughters—Preetha Reddy, Suneeta Reddy, Sangita Reddy, and Shobana Kamineni—are all well-entrenched in the running of the listed company, in which the family holds a 31% stake.

Similarly, Ranjan Pai—whose grandfather founded The Manipal Group in 1953—has built a massive empire with his Manipal Education and Medical Group (MEMG), that focusses on healthcare and education.

Several firms in vaccine manufacturing, such as Serum Institute (the Poonawalla family), Bharat Biotech (Krishna Ella and his wife Suchitra) and Virchow Biotech (promoted by N. Venkata Reddy, M. Narayana Reddy, L.V. Subba Reddy, and Ravindra Reddy, and their families) continue to be closely-held by the respective families.

In the pharma business, most family-owned companies are now publicly-listed. For example, in Ahmedabad-based Cadila Healthcare Ltd (Zydus Cadila), nearly 75% is together held by the Patel family and the Zydus Family Trust. Pankaj Ramanbhai Patel, the chairman and managing director, is one of the most successful pharma entrepreneurs in the country.

At generics giant Cipla, the Hamied family holds 37% stake. Yusuf Hamied is the non-executive chairman of the company founded in 1935 by his father Khwaja Abdul Hamied. His niece, Samina, is expected to take over the reins of Cipla in the future.

At Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, the promoter group owns 27%, while at Ahmedabad-based Torrent Pharma, billionaire brothers Sudhir Mehta and Samir Mehta run the company founded by their late father. In Wockhardt and Lupin, the promoter families have high levels of stakeholding: the Khorakiwala family holds 72%, while the Gupta family holds 47%, respectively.

In the pages that follow, we take a closer look at some of the leading family-run companies in the healthcare sector and how they are contributing to the country’s healthcare infrastructure. Their contribution is all the more relevant now, with India battling a second, and deadlier, wave of the Coronavirus infection.

(This story originally appeared in Fortune India's May 2021 issue).

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