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German pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG plans to relaunch key brands such as Saridon in India as part of its strategy to focus on growing its consumer health portfolio globally, a senior company executive said.

“Starting this month itself, with the Saridon relaunch which is happening in the market and very soon there will be a Supradyn relaunch.... So, we are starting this business by relaunching the brands and bringing in all of our global might and expertise and understanding of the local India experiences for the betterment of the brands," Sandeep Verma, country head for Bayer’s consumer health division in India said in an interview on Thursday.

On 4 June, Bayer launched its consumer health division in India, after several decades of partnership with Piramal Enterprises Ltd for its ‘superbrand’ Saridon and Supradyn.

Launched in 1933 by Hoffmann La Roche, Saridon was brought to India in 1969, and later in 1993, the Swiss multinational firm licensed the brand to Piramal, which used the analgesic tablets and Lacto Calamine to launch its consumer healthcare business that year.

Globally, the brand changed hands in 2008, with Bayer acquiring Roche’s consumer health business, and the Saridon brand along with it. However, the brand continued to be licensed to Piramal in India, until the relaunch of Bayer’s consumer health portfolio last week.

The move is in line with the multinational firm’s strategy to expand its consumer health business in four major markets—US, China, South-East Asia and India. The south Asian country is the smallest market among the four in the consumer health space but is still in focus primarily because of the scope for growth, Verma said.

Bayer will focus on 10 brands including headache relief medicine Saridon, multivitamin Supradyn, antifungal Canesten and anti-allergy drug Alaspan to grow its Indian business.

The company plans to significantly ramp up its marketing spend in the country, Verma said. “The execution strategy that we have is the ‘winning in many India execution strategy’ which essentially is a micro marketing strategy where you think of India as a collection of many small countries," Verma said.

The strategy would essentially lead to the company ramping up its reach on social media, he added.

Verma said Bayer would look at ways of ramping up its Supradyn brand of multivitamins amid the pandemic that has led to an increase in such products.

To be sure, focus on OTC segments is not new in India, and Bayer is late to the segment as many Indian drugmakers like Cipla and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries have been working on ramping up this segment for a long time.

Verma said Bayer understands that it is a late entrant, but said that India is a growing market and offers opportunity to grow in segments where its brand has a strong presence.

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