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18 September 2008
Mumbai, India.

In a move to penetrate deep into the Indian rural market, Novartis India Limited has initiated its efforts through its new business model Arogya Parivar.

In what can be termed as a first of its kind effort by a Big Pharma in India, through this strategic initiative Novartis plans to specifically address the health needs of rural India –where about 72 per cent of the country’s population lives – by meeting the medical needs of the population.

The Arogya Parivar initiative is expected to address common diseases rampant in rural areas, including tuberculosis, respiratory infections, skin and gynaecological infections, diabetes, micro–nutrients during pregnancy and childhood, intestinal worms, acid reflux, cough and cold as well as allergies.

As part of the initiative, Novartis India would employ health educators to create awareness among the rural population on diseases, prevention and treatments. Under the system, the health educators would also refer patients to doctors, apart from making the products available in pharmacies and briefing the physicians about the programme and treatments.

The project would initially focus on 24 products from the Sandoz generics and consumer healthcare over–the–counter business unit that address tuberculosis, mother and childhood malnutrition, respiratory and gastro–intestinal problems.

“We have already launched Arogya Parivar in the states like Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. We have outsourced enough manpower to conduct health camps in rural areas to impart general health information and check–ups to rural population and prescribe branded generics to them, in an attempt to build brand image within them. We would also ensure that these branded products are available at stockists and pharmacists across the country”, said, Ranjit Shahani,vice chairman and managing director, Novartis India Ltd.

However, he made it clear that there won’t be any compromise on the cost of the drugs sold in the rural parts of India. “The medicines would be sold at the same prices in other parts of India, but packages would be made small so that the rural population need not spend a huge sum one at a time”.

Asked whether as part of Arogya Parivar, Novartis India would invest in research and development of medicines to address India specific infectious and tropical diseases, he quipped no, saying Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases in Singapore would concentrate on development of medicines to address these diseases across the globe.

Though Novartis India didn’t throw light on the investments made in this project and the strength of workforce to meet the goals in tier 3 and tier 4 markets of rural India, it revealed that Arogya Parivar would be made fully operational in the country soon with the cooperation from hospitals and big NGOs.

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