Aventis launches rural market division, eyes 2 per cent share in 5 yrsFrench company Aventis Pharma on Thursday said it has launched a rural market division with 10 products and a sales team of 300 people as it eyes a bigger share of the fast growing Indian rural market, a top company official said.

“We have essentially been a Tier I (big city) player and our current revenue from the rural market is negligible. We expect to get a 1.5-2 per cent share of the rural market in the next five years. We will gradually expand our drug portfolio and launch another five drugs by January,” Shailesh Ayyangar, Managing Director at Aventis Pharma told pharmaquest.biz.

He said the prices of its brands would be competitive and match those offered by Indian generic manufactures who already have a strong presence in these regions. These drugs, which are made by 3-4 Indian companies on contract, will target those diseases which are widely prevalent in rural region such as respiratory, gastrointestinal and nutritional diseases.

At present, the Rs 36,000-crore Indian drug retail market is growing at 14 per cent annually. The Indian drug market is highly fragmented and Cipla is the market leader with just five per cent market share. Rural market accounts for about 20% of the country’s total drug retail market.

Mr Ayyangar said increased awareness about healthcare and rise in income will drive the growth in rural regions. About two-third of the country’s over a billion population lives in such areas. He said the company’s rural initiative is the first of its kind globally and may replicate a similar model in other markets also.

The company recently completed the first phase of its rural doctor educational programme ‘Prayas’ that covered 3,200 medical practitioners in Bihar, UP and West Bengal in six months. This experience has helped the company understand the rural market better and accelerate its rural initiative, said Pratin Vete, senior director of Hoechst, its rural initiative division.