Himalaya Drug Company is set for a bigger push into rural markets with the launch of a new strategic business unit (SBU) for expanding into smaller towns and hinterland districts. The development at the INR 600-crore herbal healthcare major comes as the rural share of India’s pharma market, pegged at INR 31,000 crore, has risen from 18% to 21% in 2005. A McKinsey report published last year suggests that small towns and rural centres will be contributing as much as metros and top-tier cities in pushing the domestic pharma growth by 2015. The new division – Zera – will take Himalaya’s products to doctors in well over 400 districts up from around 250 districts that are covered currently. The move is expected to see the company’s operations tracking at least 30,000 new medical practitioners in the hinterland markets. Himalaya Drug COO (pharma division) Philipe Haydon said the company will be almost doubling the strength of field representatives to 2,000 in the next three to four years as it goes for the tier-II push. “The increasing disposable income and access to better healthcare facilities will see the pharma growth being swayed by the rural story over the next decade. We hope that a significant part (10-15%) of our projected 30% CAGR over the next five years will come from small towns are rural centres,” said Mr Haydon. The latest move to divisionalise further, reflecting the growing importance of the rural pharma market, marks a new strategic outlook for the company, which streamlined market presence based on doctor specialty till now. The new rural marketing SBU will work exclusive from the three existing ones – Zera, Zandra and Zindel.