Monday, July 28, 2008

Success through innovation

In the above image we see a workshop conducted at Dr. Shikha Sharma's Nutri Health Systems ...

Doing something novel or new has become the need of the hour
, ie. the order of the day. Do something new, and do it first ... seems to be the necessity of the times. Earlier, particularly in India, you just had 'to do' to make a small fortune ... like manufacture soap bars or paracetamol tablets or malt (milk-mix) beverages and market it ... Today?! It is a prescription to lose money!! It is very essential in the current times, to do something new and better to gain mindshare and hence, marketshare. Competition, globalization, and the trend towards free market economy has made this change in the marketplace.

Cpink has done something new

Cpink is a hematinic brand from Wanbury (a pharmaceutical company that features in the top 75 pharma companies of India). Cpink has created a stir by notching Rs. 12 crore plus value in the first year of launch. The campaign theme and focus for Cpink was on paleness to pink (of health). This theme along with relationship management with key opinion leaders (doctors) has apparently done wonders for Cpink. The Rs. 500 crore hematinic market is seeing some interesting action through brands like Cpink. Remember hematinics are top selling brands in pharma India. In fact, Dexorange , a hematinic, is a steady top brand in pharma India.

Dr. Shikha is creating a new stir

Dr. Shikha Sharma noticed the wellness trend in urban India quite early in 1999, when this enterprising allopathic doctor started work on weight management, nutrition, and wellness. Today, Dr. Shikha is shaping the well being of clients through a focus on nutrition. It is quite in line with the current trend for preventive healthcare and nutritional supplements. With the impending boom in wellness, Dr. Shikha is well positioned to cash in on this mega trend.

The reason for being novel

Being innovative means creating more value for the customer when compared with competitive offerings in the marketplace. A standout example of superior value creation is the tetra pak based fruit juice based electrolyte energy drink category created by Juggat Pharma. Such is the success of this category that bigwig Pharma companies like Merck are partnering with Juggat Pharma (Pharma Div. of Jagdale Ind. Ltd., Bangalore) to get line extensions manufactured with this concept (ie., Electrobion Lemon Sip and Apple Sip) (

Be novel with communication too

The process of message transfer (communication) has gained higher importance and is the most vital ingredient of the marketing mix in the modern competitive world. For eg., new research in interpersonal communication points out that the verbal component of communication influences to the extent of just 7% in interpersonal communication. The Vocal component forms a sizable 38% of one's communication. Vocalization refers to voice modulation (pitch, pace, and pause), pronunciation, and confidence. 55% of effectiveness of interpersonal communication depends on nonverbal communication (or body language); this means one's appearance, personality, gestures, eye contact, active listening, and confidence make the maximum impact in interpersonal communication.

Communication is very vital for success of any innovation. And this is the bottomline.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

The 2020 vision: India, the global wellness hub

Ex-President of India, Abdul Kalam is a passionate man and a patriot; he has a vision for India. He inspires all people to have a vision for themselves. Dr. Kalam who has breathtaking 30 honorary doctorates and all the three top Indian civilian awards to his credit (Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, and Bharat Ratna) has written a book of his vision for India – India 2020. In this book he also writes his vision for healthcare in India. Dr. Kalam emphasizes the importance of research, technology, NUTRITION, and service to improve healthcare. It is worth noting that he states that an estimated 5% to 10% of Indians are diabetic. His vision is healthcare for all in India well before 2020. And for this transformation, he rightly says that a change in thinking is required.

It is certainly correct that a sick society is a sick market! And that spells bad business for businessmen. Thus, healthcare should be accorded maximum priority for altruism by the rich in India for all Indians, because healthy Indians make better consumers!

The wellness wave

There is a new robust change on the healthcare scenario thanks, to the inflation, ever-increasing cost of medicare, and the empowerment through the electronic media in India (and world over). The robust change is the wellness trend (in India and the world over). People are ready to invest more time and energy in preventive healthcare products and practices. This is causing a rapid increase in the demand for value added wellness products particularly the nutritional supplements (both in India and abroad). Companies like Ajanta Pharma and Krauter Healthcare have understood this trend and are riding on it. In India, lifestyle disease is already the no. 1 killer (mainly cardiovascular disease and diabetes). Healthcare is becoming expensive and altruistic support for the poor patient is patchy in India. Thus, necessity being the mother of innovation and action, Indians are taking to wellness and preventive healthcare practices like ducks take to water.

Yoga and dietary supplements

Yoga is the talk of the town. Yoga is reaching out to the masses in India. No more is Yoga seen as an esoteric practice of celibates and Himalayan Yogis. Acceptance of Yoga cuts across creed and caste. Wellness and preventive healthcare is a mass trend, and Yoga is at the vangaurd. In fact, it is interesting to observe that the land for the Yog-gram being put up by Swami Ramdev has been donated by a Muslim: Dr. S. Farrukh. It is estimated that 30% to 40% of attendees of Ramdev Baba’s mass camps in rural areas (of India) are Muslims.

Dietary supplements and herbal products are seeing a lot of action and interest in India and the world over, thanks to the media and the evangelists for such products – like Swami Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravishankar, and many more companies and individuals. In USA, about 56% of adults use nutritional supplements, and normally American market is the window of the future of emerging markets like India. The logic is that it is better to take personal care through preventive methods and products rather than suffer through financially draining complex diseases.

Given India’s traditional strengths in the space of wellness and preventive therapies and products eg.,Yoga and herbalism, it would not be out-of-place to have a 2020 vision document for creating India as a global hub for wellness and preventive healthcare.
Tailpiece – a vision on the current scene
The buzz is that India’s low cost pharmaceutical industry and reverse engineering skills are causing heartburn to non-collaborative innovator Pharma companies across the world. The sale of Ranbaxy (promoter shares) - a reverse engineering Pharma major from India - to Daichii Sankyo adds fillip to the Japanese pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. The control over Ranbaxy adds to the marketing muscle of Daiichi Sankyo. As is well known, Japan has made its mark in technology, electronics, and the automobile industry. And now will Japan become a new super power in the global Pharma industry?

Asian pharma power is clearly on the rise. This new Asian pharma order will naturally compete with the well established European-American pharma axis. Any conflict between the old order and the new age pharma corporates will be detrimental to all concerned. The best approach will be to collaborate and grow. It is in the best interests of 'health for all'.

Thanks for reading this blogpost, please scroll down and read all others too, by clicking on Older Posts as when required. I got the above image from here.

Monday, July 14, 2008

eHealth conversations


There is a lot of talk going on regarding eHealth these days. Hence, it will be appropriate to explore the eHealth frontier, and try and understand how it will impact societal life, patients, and pharmaceuticals. Here is a great write-up on eHealth CLICK HERE.

eHealth refers to the application of information technology, and technological developments in electronics, to healthcare science. For eg., the internet itself is a part of the eHealth ecosystem. However, given the ever increasing penetration of mobile phones - this communication gadget is seen increasingly as a tool for healthcare. There are reports that Revolution Health and the Google 2.0 initiatives will tap in to mobile phone technologies to create value in healthcare.

One of the high impact areas of eHealth will be on EVIDENCE BASED MEDICINE. The revolution here will be, access to therapy evidence to one and all, and sharing of knowledge in real time fashion. Google's initiative - Google Health and Microsoft with its Healthvault, can go beyond digitizing medical records to capturing knowledge for the practice of evidence based medicine. The result will be integration of healthcare knowledge: beyond the silos of allopathy, ayurveda, herbalism, and the other systems of healthcare. Because, ultimately the patient or consumer wants safe, effective and value-for-money healthcare.

The growth of evidence based medicine in eHealth platforms has significant implications to pharmaceutical marketing. No longer will the doctors as healthcare opinion builders hold complete sway on the consumption of pharmaceutical products. The informed patient will take decisions in consultation and collaboration with medical and healthcare practitioners. The rise of collaborative medical care and healthcare is imminent, and eHealth will inevitably strengthen OTX (over-the-counter plus prescription) and OTC (over-the-counter) brands.

The growth of case study analysis
The impact of eHealth can maximize case study documentation and analysis. When herbal and medical products lack in-depth clinical studies, case studies can play a critical role in helping informed patients and healthcare professionals to try and understand the behavior of specific herbs or other healthcare products, and thereby add value to the decision making process. In fact, today, the benefits of pranayama are being boosted through case study documentation by Swami Ramdev.
Case study analysis for OTC healthcare products
One of the interesting benefits of IT and eHealth to society, is the ability to create platforms to share and document knowledge, and in turn, this can add to the word-of-mouth regarding product benefits. Let us take a hypothetical example: Horlicks.
Let us say (HYPOTHETICALLY) Horlicks creates a web based platform: ! This website encourages end consumers, and other healthcare professionals to share their experiences of the benefits of Horlicks in real case studies. This web site can also, let us say, up load photos, videos, and other material that document specific case studies (from families, medical colleges, pediatricians, and other institutions) of how Horlicks has helped a patient recover from illness, or a child grow taller, or how Mother's Horlicks has helped a mother-to-be and so on. One can integrate alerts and other short messages to interested recipients from the web to the mobile phone too. The critical impact of this approach of harnessing currently available eHealth approches (such as the above hypothetical eg.,) is that it increases the knowledge related to the wellness aspect and the product. And knowledge sharing creates ideas, images, and HOPE. This will market the product further through connecting people, opinion builders, and strengthening word-of-mouth. The buzz of a brand depends on the knowledge associated with a brand and application of this knowledge.

Thus, with the increased penetration of the internet, PCs, and the mobile phones, we can expect to see accelerated changes in the healthcare sector due to the eHealth dimension. THE BEST IMPACT OF EVIDENCE BASED CASE STUDY WILL BE TO INCREASE TRUST BETWEEN BRANDS AND TARGET AUDIENCES. I can hear IBM saying, we are ideating - Not Talking!! (seen the latest IBM ads on ideating?!) Thnks for reading this blogpost, please scroll down and read all other blogposts, by clicking on older posts, where necessary.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

The mother of all battles

The above is an interesting image of obesity (increased belly fat) in children, and I got the image from HERE.

The latter half of 20th century and 21st century will be remembered for various military battles. However, the mother of all battles that is being waged now is the WAR ON EXCESS FAT. The body is now getting heavier. Across the world people are realizing that excess fat in the body is not only responsible for ungainly looks, but also
for disease. Low body fat is the key to healthy living and a healthy and beautiful (or handsome) body. There are several interesting dimensions of this battle against excess fat.

Omentum: TV show hostess Oprah Winfrey can take credit for popularizing the concept of omentum. The omentum is located in the abdomen. This abdominal tissue is a repository of fat. Located in front of the stomach is the greater omentum. And covering the liver is the lesser omentum. The omentum acts as a reservoir for not only fat but also stress hormones like cortisol. Greater the thickness of the omentum, (click here for an exciting photo) more the fat and other chemicals, and greater is the risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. When the mass of omentum increases, inflammatory processes in the body increase - causing damage to the body inner organs and diseases like atherosclerosis and diabetes. In fact, there are various aspects of the omentum that need to be investigated like free radical level in the body and thickness of omentum, relationship between kidney disease and omentum etc.

One can safely conclude on the basis of reasoning that the pranayama techniques popularized by Baba Ramdev (particularly Anuloma-viloma and Kapalbharati) exercise the body inner organs to reduce the omentum. This translates in to multiple benefits and better metabolism in the body. Hence, pranayama creates health and happiness.

There is a neuro-hormonal basis for our thoughts-words-actions. Baba Ramdev stresses that regular pranayama and Yoga creates chitta shuddhi meaning purer mind and thought flow. It is obvious that pranayama creates better neuro-hormonal functioning and this translates in to happy and purer thoughts. Baba Ramdev is a tele evangelist for Yoga and life management. His Yoga - pranayama programs are broadcast on Aastha TV channel to 169 countries.

It would also be interesting to understand the effects of various herbs on the omentum. There are herbs that help reduce body fat. Vrikshamla and Shuddha guggulu are some of them. In fact, globally the interest in herbs as healthy food and medicine is constantly increasing and now India and China are collaborating to research on Gymnema sylvestre for diabetes management.

Leptin: is a protein hormone secreted by fat cells. WHEN LEPTIN LEVELS INCREASE IN BLOOD, THERE IS INCREASED SATIETY, AND TENDENCY TO EAT COMPULSIVELY COMES DOWN. Thus, normal levels of leptin are crucial for reducing fat levels in the body. Recombinant leptin has been created and has helped people reduce body fat.

It is admirable that Swami Ramdev, who is pioneering Yoga and Pranayama as a robust science rather than as an abstract and mystical discipline, has started doing research on how pranayama helps influence levels of leptin positively, and thereby helps reduce the desire to over eat, and helps people reduce body fat and body weight. One can rightly suspect that Gymnema sylvestre may influence the blood leptin levels positively.

Fatty liver (including hepatomegaly): Increased consumption of alcoholic beverages, and other hepatotoxins (like drugs and other xenobiotics ie., non nutrient foreign bodies or chemicals) is leading to a condition called fatty liver. Essentially in this disease there is increased deposition of fats in the liver leading to enlargement of the liver (called hepatomegaly) and sluggish liver functioning that can manifest as loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, lassitude, irritability, and lethargy. Fatty liver causes abdominal distension or pot belly. In fatty liver, there is inflammation of the liver ie., swelling and loss of function.

The liver is at the receiving end because all the nutrients and xenobiotics absorbed from the small intestine or ileum through the mesenteric capillaries, passes first to the liver via the portal vein. Thus, all internal chemical insults are faced by the liver first. The liver is a detoxifying organ and tries to convert all toxins to easily excretible substances and the toxins are excreted via the kidneys or bile. In the process the liver gets affected and this manifests as fatty liver.

The liver is crucial to generation of fat. Excess glucose is converted by the liver in to glycogen (a storable form of glucose). This compound is stored in the liver. Excess glycogen is converted in to fat and sent for storage under the skin (subcutaneous fat).

Abdominal fat: refers to the excess fat stored in the abdominal region. This is of greater importance as far as influence on disease processes is concerned compared to fat located in other parts of the body. Now it is well known that pear shaped body is healthier than the apple shaped body. In fact, the healthy waist measurement for Asian men is less than 36 inches and for Asian women is less than 32 inches. For non Asian men and women the criteria are different - please click here. So it is clear that there is a lot of scope for marketers to market products and services that will help reduce waist circumference.

I am sure that humanity will win the battle against excess fat with Yoga, pranayama and ayurveda helping in this dimension. Thanks for reading this post, please scroll down and click on older posts, when required, to read other posts.