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When Deep Sagar joined Cipla in 2011, he was drawn to the company because of its solid reputation. The multinational pharmaceutical company was one of the most well known in India, and it was looking to expand its global footprint. But more importantly, Sagar says, he was interested in what Cipla does
“I have parents and elderly people in my family, who have relied on Cipla medications,” the legal director explains. “I knew it was a company I could be proud of, and that was one of the key motivations in coming here nearly twelve years ago. I was enthused by the rich legacy of Cipla, and their core purpose of ‘Caring for Life’ was one that I deeply connected with.”
At the time, Sagar had just graduated from India’s prestigious Indian Law Society’s Law College in the top 1 percent of his class, and Cipla’s law department was a lean, four-person team, which he joined as legal counsel. But the company was on the brink of explosive growth.
Just a few short years later, that team rocketed to twenty-five team members and divided into different geographies, providing Sagar the chance to work on international and cross-border transactions for the US, South Africa, and Europe. As his responsibilities increased, Sagar was called to the United States to work on Cipla’s stateside business. It meant leaving India, his home country, and adjusting to life in Florida, where he helped establish Cipla USA as head of legal in 2016. Sagar says the transition was difficult, but it also provided him with certain insights.
“I think we can all carry the baggage of where we were born and brought up,” Sagar explains. “We’re so used to things being a particular way, but I think we should try and shed those inhibitions and embrace the culture we are in.”
Meanwhile, the company continued to grow. “Now, we’re close to a $500 million company in the US alone,” Sagar says. Along with heading up legal affairs, including contracts, compliance, and litigation, Sagar also works closely with its global intellectual property team.
Asking Sagar what has kept him with the same organization for a dozen years yields an answer as wide-ranging as the lawyer’s responsibilities. “I didn’t ever feel the need to go anywhere else; there have been so many opportunities and challenges within the company that it has always kept me on my toes,” Sagar explains.
“The amount of different work and exposure I’ve gotten at Cipla is, I think, unmatched,” he continues. “When I talk to colleagues from the industry, they have jumped around a lot to get different experiences. I’ve worked in Europe, South Africa, emerging markets; I’ve done global in-licensing, and now I’m part of our leadership committee. There is the specialty business, and I always get to be involved when we expand into new territories. My hands have been so full with interesting work that I never felt motivated to go anywhere else.”
The business has evolved and grown so much that few employees have the kind of institutional knowledge Sagar possesses. He’s the go-to not just for legal insight but for how things have been done at the company over the last decade.
The last year alone is full of high points for both Sagar and Cipla. Sagar negotiated a license with Gilead for COVID-19 treatment that the lawyer is proud to say helped save lives in his home country, where the pandemic particularly was harmful.
Cipla also has had one major product launch this year. Confidentiality obligations prevented Sagar from discussing details, but the company will be introducing two generic drugs that will lower costs and increase access for patients, especially in places where the drugs weren’t previously available.
While the last year alone provided a career’s worth of highlights, Sagar isn’t slowing down. Whatever can be done, the lawyer is going to do it.
K&L Gates is proud to partner with Deep Sagar, director of legal at Cipla, a leading pharmaceutical company that provides high-quality, affordable medicines in over eighty countries worldwide. In transactions and litigations, Deep leads with a practical, strategic approach to achieve Cipla’s business objectives. For more information about K&L Gates, visit klgates.com