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May 03, 2013

From I-pill to i-Sure - an Interesting journey for Piramal Health care

The contraceptive brand I-pill was sold by Cipla to Piramal Health Care in 2010. Cipla had launched the I-pill brand in 2008, marking its entry into the over-the-counter products segment. It made the contraceptive pill into an Rs 30-crore strong lucrative brand commanding approximately 60% of the market. The emergency contraceptive pill (ECP) category in the OTC has a net margin of over 30%. Despite the aggressive advertising spend to promote the brand, it was a money spinner for Cipla.
Then why did Cipla to sell its successful and the only OTC brand in its portfolio? Industry experts believe that the government's ban on airing the television commercials of I-pill, due to its irresponsible advertising and  may be fears of brand image dilution and fear of unwanted controversies were the prime reasons for this decision.
There could also an underlying fear that the emergency contraceptive pill category may not remain within the OTC segment for long and may be included under the less-lucrative prescription drug category.
There are three other companies — Mankind Pharma, Morepen Labs and Paras Pharma with similar branded products in the market. With rising competition, Cipla did not want to spend money on nurturing the brand further. Acquiring a premium brand such as I-pill for Rs 95 crore was a good deal for Piramal Healthcare, which has proven expertise in managing OTC brands.
Now Piramal Healthcare launched i-sure, the first of its kind, single step ovulation detection kit India to predict the most fertile days of a woman in a month with a claim of 99 per cent accuracy. It is an easy to use ovulation strip that helps a woman find her ovulation time and the most fertile period to conceive.
i-sure strip looks and works in a similar fashion as a pregnancy strip. The test is non-invasive and allows the woman to the plan the time of intercourse during this pre-determined fertile phase and increase chances of conception.
The test, which is now available for sale at all leading chemists in India, can be conducted in the privacy of home. The company is counting on this kit to provide a convenient option to helps women target those two days to enhance her chances of motherhood.
This is where the marketing concept comes in. The I-pill was all about social stigma and about avoiding unwanted pregnancies and accidents as they were popularly called. Piramal might have got worried about the negative publicity that it is getting. So i-sure is a dramatic ploy of moving from negative connotation to positive - from pregnancy avoidance to pregnancy planning.
The marketing gurus have realized that there is more money to be made in planning pregnancies than in avoiding them. It would be interesting to take statistics of sales of both the products and compare the same. Would the sales of I-pill be more or sales of I-sure would be more?  Mark my words the sales of I-pill would be much more than I-sure!
Check out the packages of both the products. They are exactly similar. Classic case of surrogate advertising. Not so welcome addition to the field of advertising. Surrogate advertising and medical field. God Forbid.

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