Mumbai: Aventis Pharma Ltd, the Indian subsidiary of multinational Sanofi-Aventis SA, has initiated critical changes in business strategies in the domestic market, in line with its French parent’s increasing focus on emerging markets.

The changes include a realigned business vertical that currently focuses on two key portfolios—urban and rural—in fast-growing Indian market and a more patient-centric approach towards therapeutic segments such as diabetes.

Sanofi-Aventis, which had increased its stake in the India unit to at least 60% in March by acquiring an additional 10.27% equity from its long-time promoter-partner UB Group, has also recently elevated the Indian company’s managing director Shailesh Ayyangar to the post of vice-president of South Asia, bringing these markets directly under him.

The region consists of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

“The parent has an increased focus on the emerging markets now, as is the case with many other drug multinationals in the changed market scenario globally, especially at a time when several key products are approaching patent expiry in the developed markets," said a Sanofi-Aventis India spokeswoman.

Diabetes and cardiovascular are the two large therapeutic segments where Sanofi is aggressively pushing its business in the Indian market. These are the thrust areas of the parent and the Indian company has launched specialized marking initiatives to expand the market. It has introduced a dozen new products in these two segments.

“We have adopted a more patient-centric approach in the diabetes business by setting up a 60-member team for the new initiative. The objective is to create disease awareness directly involving patient and doctors," said Susheel Umesh, senior director, commercial operations.

“Diabetes is indeed an important focus for Sanofi-Aventis globally and in India as well. In fact, it has been established as a separate vertical across the organization. In India, the cardio-metabolism division accounts for 33% of the overall business," said the spokeswoman.

Sanofi’s insulin brand Lantus, which grew 60% in sales this year, is currently the fastest growing insulin in the domestic market, clocking an average growth rate of 30% every year.

The company’s revenue from diabetes segment alone was 200 crore, registering a 27% growth last year.

“Over the last few years, the parent has considered India as a strategic growth driver. Accordingly, significant investments are being made here to create a diversified healthcare company focused on patient needs," the spokeswoman said.

In addition to India-based business expansion to explore the potential of the world’s third fastest growing major economy, Sanofi-Aventis has also adopted an integrated South Asia approach.

“Many of the disease conditions are common across the (South Asian) countries. Therefore, this new configuration will now allow Sanofi-Aventis group to leverage on local best practices so that the entire region can benefit," the spokeswoman said.

Sanofi-Aventis had last year introduced an extended rural marketing initiative Prayas.

“The entire need for these (rural) markets are different, and these markets will grow. But we have to be present there with the right products with the right strategy, which prompted the introduction of Prayas initiative," said Umesh, adding, “In diabetes segment, we are looking at launching products aggressively in line with the global strategy."