In an interview to ET, Sandeep Verma, country head, India, Bayer consumer health division in India, said the company will use its global expertise to launch new formats such as effervescent tablets, topicals and sprays and expand its distribution footprint from 5.5 lakh pharmacies to 10 lakh by 2026, besides launching marketing campaigns to energize the brands.
Bayer launched its consumer health division in India in June last year with the relaunch of age-old pain relief brand Saridon in new packaging.
The company launched a new formulation called Saridon Advance with higher paracetamol dosage at 650 mg. The company also relaunched Supradyn – its biggest multivitamin brand in new formulations. In the dermatology space, the company recently launched anti-fungal cream Canesten. Bayer also sells other brands such as anti-allergy medicine Alaspan (loratadine), Bayer Tonic, Becozym C Forte, Benadon and others.
Bayer’s decision to launch consumer health business in India comes at a time when some multinational pharmaceutical peers have cut their exposure. Earlier, Sanofi sold its legacy antimicrobial skin cream Soframycin, while
cut its exposure by signing sales and distribution pact with Dr Reddy’s Laboratories for its pain relief brand Voveran and calcium range that includes Calcium Sandoz and Methergine in India. Both Saridon and Supradyn were licensed to Piramal Group in the past, but transitioned back to Bayer’s new consumer health division at the end of the licensing agreement term. Piramal still distributes these products in India.
“India consumer health space is very nascent and small, but is still among top 10 markets; it is actually number 8 now but with the kind of growth rates in India, higher than many other countries,” Verma said.
“Bayer consumer health figured out that India would actually become a top-4 market globally in the next 7-8 years. Now, it is probably going to happen much faster after Covid. Look, if you have to become a big player in the consumer health space, there is no way that we can ignore India…that’s when we want to ensure access to all Bayer’s global expertise to the Indian consumer,” Verma added. Consumer health in India, excluding Ayurveda, is about ₹4 billion ($4.3 billion), and the penetration levels are in single digits, Verma said.