Asrar’s Note: Dear Pharma Veterans! I have created this space for ‘Pharma Veterans’; all of us, not just me. I am filling this space to begin with to keep it moving. You are most cordially invited to write your thoughts/ ideas/ experiences. Please send these to me at firstname.lastname@example.org . Your contributions will be published promptly and without editing. Please join the Community and the Movement.
For the next year and half, I literally wandered around. I did not entirely go back to my home in Lahore. I divided my time between Lahore, Multan and Bahawalpur.
I entered and exited Glaxo quickly. Then a colleague referred me to Sheikh Ejaz, District Manager Lederle. He had a vacancy in Sahiwal which I opted for. He said I had to go to Karachi for final interview. So, one afternoon, I embarked on Chenab Express from Bahawalpur to go to Karachi. The train had a problem on the way and reached Karachi eight hours behind schedule. It was about 5.00PM when I disembarked at Karachi cantonment station. It was raining heavily. I called Lederle office from a public phone and asked for Shamshad Ali, Manager Lederle Division. He came on line and I told him I had just arrived. He said he was expecting me and asked me to come over to office right away. From Saddar to Hawkes Bay is a very long ride that becomes longer in Karachi rain. I finally reached Lederle office after 7.00PM. Shamshad Ali was alone in the head office and waiting for me. He offered me a cup of tea which he made for me. We sat down to talk. The interview didn’t take long, and I was hired. He gave me a ride in his car back to the city and offered to drop me anywhere I wanted. Imagine, he was Head of Lederle Division, the Pharmaceutical Division of Cyanamid; and look at his humility and kindness and consideration. Great people to learn from and follow.
I went to Karachi for two weeks initial training and topped it. Lederle management was more like conservative aristocracy, not as stiff as Glaxo, but more humane. They were a fine group of gentlemen. A senior manager would pick us up from Hotel Jabees in Saddar and bring us to head office in Hawkes Bay; and dropped back in the evening. Zaheer ul Islam, Jaffer Naqvi, G. Adil Khan, Noor, Ejaz Nasri, were all different, but following the same protocol. Lederle probably had the least turnover for a very long time. It was acquired by Wyeth, that was part of American Home Products; then acquired by Pfizer. Lederle old guard stood firm and retired at the age of retirement or may still be working somewhere. I did not become one of them.
I want to share one event about benevolence. In 1984, I developed a viral eye infection which turned into corneal ulcer. It became so bad that I stayed in Services Hospital for five weeks. Professor Wasif Mohyuddin Qadri was a gentleman. He would take round several times a week and always stopped at my bed for discussion with his staff. I was getting Velosef IV (cephradine), Nebcin IV (tobramycin) and Soframycin/Lincocin Intra-ocular. Plus, there was a regimen of two hourly multiple eye drops. The infection did not resolve. After four weeks, Professor Qadri decided to use antifungal eye drops. Problem was that no antifungal eye drops sold on the market. They asked me could I get Nystatin powder? If yes, I could get eye drops made by Fazal Din & Sons, the most famous pharmacy in Lahore. It was four years after my short stint in Lederle. I called Lederle head office and talked to G. Adil Khan. I told him my problem and requested him to send small quantity of pure Nystatin powder. He was very sympathetic and said he would get it dispatched the same day. Next day, I got it collected from Lederle office in Lahore, got eye drops prepared and started using. In one week, the infection was settled, and I was discharged from the hospital. No amount of gratitude is enough to adequately admire such acts of kindness and generosity.
I was in Lahore and my friends referred (and pushed) me to interview for Wyeth.
The management layers were fewer at that time due to smaller structures. I was interviewed by the District Field Manager, Sharaf Iqbal; then by the National Sales Manager, Rab Nawaz Khan and then by the Marketing Manager, Shahab Balkhi. I was hired.
I participated in two weeks training at Karachi and topped. Azeem Jaffri was training manager and was a very teacher like person. Wyeth products were not very complex and were easy to comprehend. There was not much to ‘discuss’ for most products. It was more selling.
In June 1980, I joined Wyeth for Lahore……