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Bayer is looking to take a leading role in promoting self-care in India with its Consumer Health business in the country now operational.

Having historically marketed its OTC brands in India through a licensing approach, Bayer has set up its own operation in the country under the management of Sandeep Verma, a former Unilver executive. The business is built around four core brands – the Saridon analgesic, Supradyn dietary supplement, Canesten antifungal and Alaspan anti-allergy line – which will be manufactured locally, alongside six other smaller brands.

Bayer Consumer Health’s global head Heiko Schipper revealed in March the intention to set up an Indian business to take a slice of the country’s growing €2bn ($2.4bn) consumer health market. The move is part of a wider push into Asia after Bayer identified untapped growth potential in the region. (Bayer Consumer Health Looks To India And China For New Sources Of Growth)

Establishing Self-Care Council

Alongside its launch in India, Bayer Consumer Health has established India’s first Self-Care Council, which the firm says will “navigate and address pressing topics and misconceptions about health and sustainability.”

A multi-stakeholder body, the Council will comprise members across a broad spectrum of sectors, including media, industry associations, technology, infrastructure, and other organizations.

Bayer plans through the Council to launch a national self-care knowledge service, which it describes as a “first of its kind digitally-enabled solution backed by scientific expertise to empower consumers with uninterrupted access to reliable and credible information on self-care.”

According to Bayer, self-care is not an established practice in India, with adults likely to overlook minor illnesses, which eventually take a toll on overall health, well-being and productivity.

Responsible self-care could help address this, Bayer explained, by promoting proactive health-seeking behaviors, contributing to an optimized quality of life and the maintenance of a healthy workforce.

Self-care solutions could also ease the pressure on India’s overburdened healthcare practitioners, Bayer pointed out. “Consumer health offerings can reduce the need for clinic visits, thus sustaining proactive everyday healthcare and reaching under-served consumers across the nation. This can enable communities to bounce back beyond the pandemic with enhanced health and productivity.”

Pandemic Highlights Need For Self-Care

Bayer announced the launch of the Council during a recent webinar co-hosted with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI).

Speaking at the event – titled “Self-care for a self-reliant India” – Bayer’s Verma said the COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the growing need for increased self-care adoption in India. “At this crucial juncture, easing the burden on India’s healthcare infrastructure is imperative, while simultaneously equipping and empowering more than one billion Indians to make informed choices and pursue better health and nutrition.”

“Bayer Consumer Health is committed to working collaboratively with stakeholders through the country’s first Self-Care Council to enable responsible self-care in India, driving forward our vision of ‘Health for All, Hunger for None’,” Verma explained. “Through this endeavour, we hope to expand access to safe, convenient and effective daily health solutions.”

Dr VG Somani, India’s drug controller general at the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, said that against the backdrop of the pandemic it was “important to accelerate the momentum for adoption of consumer health solutions, to ensure the national health system is supported at this time.”

“By raising health awareness and putting in place well-defined regulations, consumers can be empowered to take proactive measures to manage minor ailments while also undertaking preventive action to boost immunity,” Somani noted, “thus reducing the need for healthcare practitioner interventions.”

Bayer’s commitment to developing self-care in India is part of a wider mission at the company. Dave Evendon-Challis, Bayer Consumer Health’s chief scientific officer, recently told HBW Insight that the company expects to steer more consumers into effective self-care by using credible science behind its products and improving the user experience. (ScienceBacked Products Better User Experience Sell SelfCare Bayer Consumer Research Chief)

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