Ranbaxy aims to hire 1,500 reps for rural India sales

Yet an other drugmaker has its eyes on India's rural drugs market, only this time it's not a multinational Big Pharma, but a homegrown generics giant: Ranbaxy Laboratories. Now a subsidiary of Japan's Daiichi Sankyo, Ranbaxy is aiming to beef up its operations so it can make inroads into the countryside.

Ranbaxy plans to hire some 1,500 sales reps, a move that would increase the size of its sales force by 50 percent. As India's Economic Times reports, the recruitment plans are among the biggest of any Indian drugmaker in recent years. But given that Big Pharma is also targeting India for big growth--and staffing up to make it happen--the hiring push makes sense.

"Ranbaxy is looking at new rural markets and deeper penetration in interior markets," a source involved in the hiring told the Times. Analysts speculate that the renewed interest in its own backyard is in part a response to troubles Ranbaxy has had overseas, including a much-publicized product suspension from the U.S. market. It's also a bid to regain its spot as India's biggest drugmaker, a position it ceded to Cipla back in 2007.

Of course, Ranbaxy will have plenty of competition. Bayer is planning to double its sales team in India. Sanofi-Aventis recently mounted a push into small towns and rural areas in the country. Merck has been growing its sales force in India, while Novartis and Novo Nordisk are among the big drugmakers specifically targeting rural India for growth.

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