The Argentinian bet to beat Pfizer: the company moves millions to pharmacies

For two decades there has been a intense rivalry within the analgesic market. Ibupirac, of Pfizer, has led the company since its launch in the mid-1980s, but in the midst of an economic crisis, the German company Bayer interfered in the business in order to challenge its leadership role. Today, on its 20th anniversary, Actron remains one of the best-selling brands of the over-the-counter drug segment, even if for its owner the pharmaceutical sector is not the one that brings the real income.

the German Ulrich Klébert He joined the company at the age of 23 in the Consumer Products sector within the parent company. Then he traveled through several Latin American countries, such as El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala, until in 2000, he became number one in Bayer’s OTC division for the southern coneaccording to the specialized site Pharmabiz.

Ulrich Klebert left Bayer in 2011

Shortly after, Klebert took on the position of director of the Health sector. From there, they say, he was Actron’s ideologue, intending to come out to compete in the painkiller segment. However, the goal was position itself in the muscle pain niche and in a more premium range price wise. At that time, the firm already had Bayaspirin for headaches.

Launch of Actron

The brand debuted in 2002 with its fast-paced format’ of ibuprofen 400 milligrams. To differentiate themselves from their competitor, they chose to place it among the over-the-counter drugs and presented in soft gelatin capsules. By 2010, Actron had already become one of the best-selling brands in pharmacy and moved approximately 15 million boxes per year.

Competition has also occurred at the level of advertising. In 2011, while Pfizer brought in former rugby player Agustin Pichot and tennis legend Guillermo Vilas for the launch of Ibupirac Plus; Bayer presented a spot featuring actor Martn Buzzo, one of the members of the Fuerza Bruta band, which was all the rage at the time.

Over time, the German holding company extended the brand born in Argentina to other sub-items. Developed Actron Woman, for menstrual pain; pediatrics, and 600 for prescription drugs. Between 2017 and 2018, they released Plus, for headaches, and Flex, for muscle aches. Last year, it started competing with the segment of anti-inflammatory volume gels and Anaflex cream, among others.

million units

According to the Observatory of the Argentine Pharmaceutical Confederation (COFA), over-the-counter drugs represent a quarter of dispensations in pharmacies. In the first half of 2021, more than 2.5 million units were distributed Ibuprofen painkiller from Bayer.

However, today the company of agriculture takes about 80% of income of Bayer in the country. Overall, the driving role of the segment repeats itself. In its 2021 annual report, the company reported a turnover of 44,081 million euros, of which the crop science division took 45.8% and the consumer health division 12%. Painkillers? It does not reach 2%.


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