As the son of the founder of Granules India Ltd. , one of the world’s largest manufacturers of off-patent drugs, Harsha Chigurupati saw the damage that pain relievers like acetaminophen can do to the liver. He watched as scientists at Granules sought to mitigate those effects using additives. In 2002, he left Hyderabad, India, for Boston University and, after a night of drinking, woke up with a headache and an idea.“I don’t believe in abstinence,” says Chigurupati, who, at 33 years old, still looks young enough to get carded. “What I do believe in is using technology to make life better. I’m not going to stop drinking, so why not make it safer?”
After graduation, Chigurupati spent 12 years and $35 million to create a compound that, he says, helps protect against the liver and DNA damage caused by drinking. In 2006, he hired six biopharmacologists to comb through the ingredients that the Food and Drug Administration deems safe to consume. By 2013, they settled on a three-ingredient formula: potassium sorbate, glycyrrhizin and mannitol, an anti-inflammatory derived from licorice root. Chigurupati created a company (Chigurupati Technologies) and named his compound NTX—short for “no-tox.” Compared with rats given plain vodka, rats given NTX-infused vodka showed a 40% to 70% reduction of biomarkers known to indicate liver damage, according to studies funded by Chigurupati.