(Photo Courtesy: www.pehub.com)
The Maharashtra-based HAL was the first drug manufacturing unit in the country to commercially produce antibiotics like Penicillin, Streptomycin, Gentamicin, Ampicillin and Amoxycillin among others.
In 1954, when India was celebrating its seventh year of independence from the British rule, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) along with the government of India came together to set up HAL in the public sector.
The company was declared shaky way back in 1996. It was then referred to Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction (BIFR) in 1997, and the rehabilitation package was implemented by the government only from 2007 onwards.
"Such delays in decision-making has also contributed to the dismal situation of the company, inspite of its attempts to rise up through diversification and modernization," regretted Mr Varkey.
Bulk Penicillin manufacturing is an energy-intensive process. The steep hike in the energy cost in India resulted in unviability of Penicillin manufacturing in India, and all such units in the country were shut.