The Rs 650 crore Elder Pharmaceuticals Limited (NSE – ELDERPHARM) has set up a dedicated division called “Elvista” to spread its network to villages, towns, sub-urban/periphery markets and hinterland districts.

 Initial target is Class II to IV towns and rural markets with a dedicated sales force of 240. “We plan to increase Elvista’s marketing strength to about 750 personnel or “product specialists” by 2012”, says Alok Saxena, Director, Elder Pharma. The company has earmarked an investment of Rs 40 crore for its rural thrust.

Elvista is targeting therapeutic categories which have greater relevance in rural areas and are preferred by doctors like Anti-peptic Ulcerants, Anti-Malarials, Anti-infectives, NSAIDS, Quinolones, Cough preparations, etc. The division has been launched with the support of 16 brands which included a big brand like Eldervit injection. And few niche brands like Mucodyne, Mucobron, Protocream and Venex too have been launched in these towns.

Elvista has already penetrated the rural markets of UP, Maharashtra, Andhra and Bihar and soon will enter the South. Before Dec 2012, Elvista plans to reach 1500 villages with populations of below 40,000, 300 villages with populations of 40,000 to 100,000 and over 75 peripheral villages/towns around MMR (Mumbai Metropolitan region). By 2012, Elvista’s target is to cover about five lakh doctors promoting health education and awareness.

Adds Saxena, “Rural markets offer large potential volume growth which has not been tapped properly by most of the pharmaceutical companies. Rising rural income levels, sops by government to set up health infrastructure in rural areas, thrust on rural health programmes, emergence of lifestyle diseases and penetration of medical insurance are fuelling pharma growth in rural areas.”

Although more than 60% of Indian populace lives in rural areas, it accounts for a meager 21% of the total pharmaceuticals market. By 2015 rural pharma market will be around 27% out of the total estimated pharmaceuticals sector size of Rs 90,000 crore.

Elder has over 350 products with focus of generics, women’s healthcare, pain management lifestyle diseases etc which are planned to be taken to the rural markets by 2012 by which time Elvista is expected to contribute about 15 percent of Elder’s total turnover.