47% of asthma patients fear social stigma more than the disease itself.” – Nikhil Chopra, EVP and head, India Business, Cipla

Abid Hussain Barlaskar , afaqs!, New Delhi

In the brand’s latest ad, Priyanka Chopra’s revelation of being an asthmatic is set to dilute the bad buzz around asthma and inhalers.

Pharmaceutical company Cipla, in its latest commercial for campaign #BerokZindagi aims at dispelling stigmas around asthma and normalising the use of inhalers in everyday life. However, roping in an in-vogue star like Priyanka Chopra and getting her to open up about her personal battles against the respiratory disorder since childhood, adds a shiny red cherry on the pie.

The inhaler is a drug delivery apparatus which is used to treat respiratory disorders like asthma. As Cipla claims, inhalers happen to be more potent than oral administration as the procedure requires smaller doses of medication delivered directly to the lungs.

Cipla's latest ad film for campaign #BerokZindagi featuring Priyanka Chopra

Cipla’s latest ad film for campaign #BerokZindagi featuring Priyanka Chopra

The latest commercial is part of the campaign launched by Cipla last year. The team at Cipla maintains that the #BerokZindagi campaign was a pilot project aimed at establishing inhalers as the most effective and safe choice to combat the respiratory illness. The campaign’s purpose was to educate the larger asthmatic audience on how to manage and control the disease. The latest ad is aimed at social stigmas – one of the key factors for limited disclosure of being asthmatic and avoiding inhaler use in public.

Cipla’s ad films from campaign #BerokZindagi from 2017

Cipla released two ads last year for #BerokZindagi, on similar lines.

And in Priyanka’s case, she learnt she was asthmatic when she was five. It was her mother, a doctor, who encouraged her to use inhalers. However, it was her relatives who were apprehensive that it would make her reliant on the medication.

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So why the ad? Aren’t inhalers prescription medicines and better demonstrated by a doctor? And, the ad speaks for all brands of inhalers in general which actually rely on the doctor for sales. How does this B2C communication benefit Cipla as a brand?

afaqs! spoke to Nikhil Chopra, executive vice president and head, India Business, Cipla, to find out more about the brand’s communication.


Nikhil Chopra

Chopra explains

There is a lack of awareness on inhalation therapy in India. It’s surrounded by social stigma. 47 per cent of patients fear the social stigma more than the disease itself. They are afraid of getting labelled, further leading to avoidance by society, peers and family. Our research also revealed prevailing myths and misconceptions that inhalers are addictive, have strong medication and are not suitable for children,

“Inhalation refers to a category of medicines and not a particular molecule or a brand. It encompasses a large number of molecules, their combinations and a large number of inhalation devices. The choice of the molecule and the inhaler is the physician’s prerogative. The campaign thus aims to normalise the use of inhalers as a category and increase patient awareness so as to better enable doctors to drive the optimum health outcomes for their patients,” he adds.

“The primary aim of our mass education drive is to promote awareness among patients to consult doctors for the most effective treatment of asthma, which is inhalation therapy. The campaign is our effort to go beyond drugs and devices and shape the respiratory health ecosystem. This thought stems from Cipla’s purpose of ‘caring for life’ and focuses on ‘patient-centricity’ that drives our innovation philosophy,” Chopra adds.


Juneston Mathana

Speaking about the brand’s brief, Juneston Mathana, creative director, Grey Group – India, who worked on the campaign, says,

“The brand’s sharply defined objective was to increase the usage of inhalers by removing the stigma associated with the disease and eliminating the myths surrounding the therapy. One of the biggest myths was related to the addiction of inhalers. With Priyanka (Chopra) on board, the communication needed to reflect her unstoppable attitude in life and use her personality to bust the ‘addiction’ myth surrounding inhalation therapy.”

With regard to the challenges of this medical communication, Mathana explains, “We had to show inhalers as the solution for asthmatics to lead a better lifestyle rather than focus on their condition. And it helped that Priyanka has been an asthmatic since childhood. Since this is a prescription-based product, not only did we have to highlight that inhalers are better and safe but encourage asthmatics to ask their doctors about their benefits.”


Expert speak:

Praful Akali, founder and MD, Medulla Communications, an agency that specialises in healthcare communication, maintains that this communication takes a real person like Priyanka, who demonstrates #BerokZindagi and gives away her secret to break myths and false perceptions.

Praful Akali

Akali says.

“I hope the brand puts media monies behind it and utilises the campaign to its full potential. It also has potential for some great PR, social and user-generated campaigns as an offshoot of the ad,”

His opinion regarding the brand’s B2C communication for a B2B category is, “Gone are the days when pharma was seen as a B2B category – it’s now clear that consumers, doctors and pharmacists, (also dieticians, gym instructors, caregivers etc. sometimes) each play a role in the decision-making process for pharma or healthcare brands. So, pharma companies are reaching out to a mix of these stakeholders to drive brand decisions”.

Akali adds his take on how Cipla would reap the benefits from the ad film, “While doctors prescribe inhalers, the challenge in the category, for Cipla, is not generating doctor prescriptions but getting patients to comply with those prescriptions. Patients believe that inhalers are addictive and users have very poor health or are weak. By using Priyanka’s story to break these misperceptions the campaign should get patients to comply with inhaler prescriptions where Cipla is by far, the market leader, thus directly benefiting Cipla’s business.”


Pravin Sutar, executive creative director, Dentsu Webchutney is of the opinion that the ad has managed to trigger the right conversation about the problem and showcases the solution in its full glory. He believes that using Priyanka Chopra and her family background as a part of the storyline is interesting, but as a creative approach, it was playing it safe.

With regard to the B2C style of communication, he says,

Pravin Sutar

“That’s a smart move, targeting the TG in this category who are surely looking for a simpler solution; contemplating between the tablets and inhalers. Brands like Cipla, an established leader, stepping in and giving their TG an assurance about a solution, will be a big relief for them. After watching this ad, anyone suffering from asthma will be aware of the message and will ask for the inhaler.”

When it comes to benefiting Cipla Sutar states, “Clearly Cipla is trying to make the awareness super-strong in this category. By having a generic dialogue rather than being specific, Cipla has managed to trigger the awareness in this category. It might help them in changing the behaviour of their TG who is stuck in that hazy dilemma. They are clearly trying to own the category. Cipla, as brand, will stick in their TG’s mind as a first option.”


Anadi Sah, lead innovation – creative and tech, Isobar, finds the film impressive and compelling. He believes that roping in a celebrity who narrates her own experience is a remarkable strategic decision that would surely benefit the brand as well as the entire category.

Anadi Sah

Sah says.

“Any category whether B2B or B2C, at the end of the day, is driven by humans who are sensitive to emotions and receptive to external stimulus. It has been a while since the Tech and IT sectors have broken this B2B vs B2C divide and shifted to a humanised approach of storytelling that has benefited them. This film initiates the approach in the Pharma and Healthcare category,”

“Being a leading pharma brand, I feel it is a thoughtful move to address a category challenge. This move benefits brands in multiple aspects. The film clearly builds awareness and recall for the brand as well as a cure for an ailment that’s always ignored or avoided. Further, I am confident that this will also generate a demand for Cipla, once there is a change in the audience’s perception through the film,” he adds.


This article originally appeared in afaqs.com

To know more about #BerokZindagi, visit Breathfree

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Humane Approach To Health Care

It’s been a week of accolades for scientist and chairman of Cipla, Dr Yusuf K Hamied, who received the Indore Management Association Lifetime Achievement Award for 2018 last Friday. “It was attended by 5,000 management students and 1,000 business executives, and was really quite impressive,”he said, when we spoke.

Dr Yusuf K Hamied (third from right) receives the award.

The Cambridge-educated Cathedral-schooled Hamied celebrated for his philanthropy especially in Africa, where his decision to sell AIDS medicines at a highly-subsidised cost has saved millions of lives, as expected, made a strong case for a humane approach to healthcare.

“The right to live should not be contingent on the ability to treat. We need to provide essential, affordable drugs to safeguard a stable and healthy environment, not only in India, but wherever needed in the emerging world,” he’d said in his address.

“Of the seven billion people living on our planet, 6.2 billion live in the emerging and developing world. Healthcare is guaranteed to only 10% of the world’s population. One in three do not have access to even basic medicines. In Asia and Africa, this goes up to 50%.” Shifting his gaze specifically to India, Dr Hamied, son of the late nationalist KA Hamied (a close associate of the Mahatma), said, “We now require another national objective, a dream in which every Indian citizen can have a decent quality of life. As the educated elite of our country, all of us should pledge our fullest cooperation and support to fulfil this task of prioritising healthcare. We must be accountable to our future generations. They must not look back and accuse us for not doing what our conscience demands.”

Unsurprisingly, his big picture humanitarian approach has won him many an admirer, and no surprises then that almost immediately after his IMA recognition, Dr Hamied, who divides his time between Europe and India, picked up his second lifetime achievement award of the week yesterday, this time from a business newspaper. Slated to be in the country till mid-March, it is safe to assume there will be at least a couple more before the high-flying Padma Bhushan recipient flies out.


This article originally appeared in Hindustantimes.com


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Of Patents and Patients

Pharmaceutical giant Cipla’s archive is worth emulating for all legacy companies. This diarist toured it last week and was surprised to see the effort gone into chronicling the company’s eight-decade-long journey.

A visitors’ book from 1939, signed by both Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel; a 1939 photograph of a Cipla-monogrammed van, against the Great Pyramid of Giza; a photograph from August 15, 1947, with founder Khwaja Abdul Hamied and Dr Yusuf Khwaja Hamied, current non-executive chairman, as a child, celebrating with the staff.

Cipla founder Khwaja Abdul Hamied with son, Dr Yusuf Khwaja Hamied. Pics/Bipin Kokate


There are also letters, telegrams, brochures, photographs of the labs, catalogues, tins that contained Calcima ACD (calcium tablets), an inhaler from 1993, and paraphernalia from Dr Yusuf’s world-famous HIV/AIDS offer of providing medicines for less than a dollar a day in 2001: all of these have been pieced together from different sources.

MK Hamied, non-executive vice-chairman and Dr Yusuf’s brother, tells us,

“A few years ago, several factors such as the generational change in promoter leadership, new emerging business trends, the changing Indian and international pharmaceutical scenarios, etc, prompted introspection. The general desire in the promoter family was to ensure that Cipla’s rich legacy was not lost. Cipla’s story is in many ways the story of Indian pharma. Work on building the Cipla Archives repository and accumulating material, starting with oral histories, commenced in 2015.”

Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in 1939

Samina Vaziralli, executive vice-chairperson and MK’s daughter, says,

“For me, as a third-generation Ciplaite, the Cipla Archives is the custodian and record-keeper of the rich past, present and future of Cipla. It serves as a daily reminder of the might of our legacy and the need to watch against resting on past laurels, and as motivation to keep moving onwards and upwards. In the current business atmosphere, I believe corporate archives provide that extra competitive edge. [They] demonstrate pride in the company’s legacy, but also prove that we treat our legacy with the seriousness and sense of responsibility it deserves.”


This article originally appeared in mid-day.com


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In Remote Villages, Surprising New Measures Save Children With Malaria

Malaria quickly kills toddlers. But rapid diagnostic tests, a new suppository drug and bicycle ambulances can buy enough time to get stricken children to hospitals.

During malaria season, children who live in remote villages are at tremendous risk. When parasites transmitted by mosquitoes swarm into the brain, the disease can kill within 24 hours.

Often parents do not realize quickly enough how close a toddler is to death. More than 90 percent of malaria deaths are in children under five years old.

Now, after 13 years of effort, a set of stopgap measures to keep youngsters alive long enough to get them to a clinic has been developed. Initial testing suggests the measures can dramatically cut death rates; in one pilot project in Zambia, they dropped by 96 percent.

The most important new element is artesunate delivered as a soft rectal suppository. Artesunate is the drug that hospitals inject into children in mortal danger from malaria infections of the brain. The new version comes in a form that can be given by a village health worker or even a parent.

Rectal administration gets the drug into the blood quickly and avoids the possibility that the child will vomit up the medication. Ideally, each two-dose box kills enough parasites to buy six to 12 more hours for a child to reach higher-level care.

The World Health Organization endorsed the idea of artesunate suppositories in 2005, but it was not until February that a version finally won full W.H.O. approval. It is made by Cipla, the Indian pharmaceutical company that in 2001 became the first to make inexpensive generic H.I.V. drugs for Africa.

A second artesunate suppository, by another Indian company, Strides, was approved in June.

Other advances that help save children with malaria include rapid diagnostic tests, training local health workers to recognize the disease and a fleet of bicycle ambulances.

The test gives a diagnosis in minutes with only a finger-prick drop of blood.

The ambulances are metal carts about six feet long and four feet wide that can be made in a local welding shop and attached to most bicycles. A mother and child can ride flat or sitting, and the cart can navigate dirt tracks too narrow for cars.

(Motorbike ambulances have been rolled out in India for use in roadless mountain areas and cities plagued by traffic jams, but they are wider and more expensive.)

The multipronged program was tested during the 2017-2018 malaria season in a Zambian district where villages could be up to 10 miles over dirt tracks from any formal medical care.

It dramatically cut child mortality rates, and in April the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation released a video describing the program’s success.

An analysis released in August calculated that deaths were 96 percent lower than they would have been without the combination of suppositories, ambulances, test kits and extra training.

(The comparison was imperfect, because the 2017-2018 season in the analysis appears to have been more severe than the previous season, and local clinics were well prepared in advance. Still, only three children died, which was far fewer than local health officials had seen before.)

The pilot project was supported by the Medicines for Malaria Venture, a partnership founded in 1999 to pursue new malaria drugs, and Transaid, a British charity that works to improve transportation in poor countries.

Donald G. McNeil Jr. is a science reporter covering epidemics and diseases of the world’s poor. He joined The Times in 1976, and has reported from 60 countries. 


This article originally appeared in The New York Times

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A first in Morocco: CIPLA MAROC opens an inhaler manufacturing plant in the Rabat region for an investment of 60 MDH

Inaugurated by MM. Anas Doukali and MM. Moulay Hafid Elalamy, the plant will produce 1.5 million metered-dose inhalers annually

Rabat, Morocco, October 13, 2018: Cipla Maroc, subsidiary of the leading global pharmaceutical company Cipla Ltd, today announced the official opening of its manufacturing plant for metered-dose inhalers in Ain Aouda in the Rabat region.

A total of 60 million dirhams have been invested in this project. This is the first time that an industrial unit of this kind has opened in the Country.

The ceremony took place in the presence of Mr. Anas Doukkali, Minister of Health, Dr. Y.K. Hamied – Non Executive Chairman of Cipla, Mr Niravkumar B Sutariya, Second Secretary, Embassy of India in Morocco, Mr. Christos Kartalis – Executive Vice President- Emerging Markets and Europe of Cipla, Mr. Ali Sedrati – General Manager of Pharmaceutical Institute & Mr. Ayman Cheikh Lahlou – General Manager of Cooper Pharma, as well as representatives of local authorities and the national pharmaceutical industry.

Spread over a total area of 4,000 square meters, the Cipla Maroc plant offers an annual production capacity of 1.5 million HFA metered-dose inhalers. Around fifteen references will be manufactured on the site, and eleven will be distributed for the first time in Morocco.

The Cipla Maroc industrial unit is built as per the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO), as well as European and American regulatory authorities. The facility received regulatory approval from the General Secretary of Govt on 18th of June 2018.

“We are proud of this addition to our manufacturing footprint, a first for the region. With this, we not only strengthen our manufacturing, but also ties between Morocco and Cipla. This factory will leverage Cipla’s well known expertise and experience in the respiratory inhalation segment to help patients in Morocco and the neighbouring regions in keeping with our purpose of Caring for life.”

Christos Kartalis – Executive Vice President- Emerging Markets and Europe of Cipla Said

“Cipla, Phi and Cooper have made a smart distinctive investment in Morocco in the inhaler technology that is a first for the country and region. This would allow to reduce significantly our imports of this technology and it would improve our value added product’s offer for the exports markets”

Mr. Ali Sedrati – General Manager of Pharmaceutical Institute & Mr. Ayman Cheikh Lahlou – General Manager of Cooper Pharma added:

About Cipla Maroc:

Founded in 2015, Cipla Maroc is a joint-venture between the Cipla Ltd, headquartered in Mumbai (India), and its Moroccan partners Pharmaceutical Institute and Cooper Pharma It focuses on the production and marketing of pharmaceutical products of the highest quality.

About Pharmaceutical Institute

Establised in 1988, The Pharmaceutical Institute (PHI) is a national laboratory with Multinational standards. It manufactures its own range of generic medicines especially for chronic diseases and cancers in a concern for universal access with the best quality price/ratio.

About Cooper Pharma

Cooper Pharma has been established in Morocco sin 1933. Its products portfolio cover most of the key therapeutic classes through branded generics, in-licensed innovative products and OTC. The geographical reach covers Morocco, North Africa, West Africa, East Africa, GCC countries and Eastern Europe through a network of 8 manufacturing plants operated on its own or through JVs. Cooper Pharma has been approved in 2008 by the European authorities, in 2011 by the Saudi FDA and by several other health authorities”.

About Cipla Ltd:

Established in 1935, Cipla is a global pharmaceutical company focused on agile and sustainable growth, complex generics, and deepening portfolio in our home markets of India, South Africa, North America, and key regulated and emerging markets. Our strengths in the respiratory, anti-retroviral, urology, cardiology and CNS segments are well-known. Our 44 manufacturing sites around the world produce 50+ dosage forms and 1,500+ products using cutting-edge technology platforms to cater to our 80+ markets. Cipla is ranked 3rd largest in pharma in India (IQVIA MAT Mar’18), 4th largest in the pharma private market in South Africa (IQVIA MAT Jun’18), and is among the most dispensed generic players in the US. For over eight decades, making a difference to patients has inspired every aspect of Cipla’s work. Our paradigm-changing offer of a triple anti-retroviral therapy in HIV/AIDS at less than a dollar a day in Africa in 2001 is widely acknowledged as having contributed to bringing inclusiveness, accessibility and affordability to the centre of the movement. A responsible corporate citizen, Cipla’s humanitarian approach to healthcare in pursuit of its purpose of ‘Caring for Life’ and deep-rooted community links wherever it is present make it a partner of choice to global health bodies, peers and all stakeholders.


Press Release:

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