Hamied is best known outside India for defying large Western pharmaceutical companies in order to provide generic AIDS drugs. His mission is to help provide cost-effective access to medicine and treatments in poor countries.
He is the non-executive chairman of $2.1 billion (revenue) generics maker Cipla that was founded by his father Khwaja Abdul Hamied in 1935. When Khwaja, a disciple of Gandhi, passed away in 1972, Cambridge-educated Hamied and his brother Mustafa inherited the business.
Hamied has led efforts to eradicate AIDS in the developing world and to give patients life-saving medicines regardless of their ability to pay. He has been characterized as a modern-day Robin Hood or ‘drug pirate’ as a result.
A scientist turned businessman and is regarded as a pioneer in the development of multi-drug combination pills, which are particularly relevant and important in the treatment of AIDS, TB and asthma.
Hamied’s role in the battle for mass antiretroviral treatment in Africa is portrayed in the documentary Fire in the Blood (2013).