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How AI Can Play a Role in Tackling the COVID-19 Pandemic?

How AI Can Play a Role in Tackling the COVID-19 Pandemic?

The global healthcare industry faced the most significant health challenge in 2020. To protect ourselves against the novel COVID-19 virus and lower the overall disruption many AI companies started to develop new tools to overcome this difficulty. Here are some keyways that prove how AI is essential in tackling COVID-19.

  • Containing the Spread:

AI can be harnessed in forecasting the spread of the virus by developing an early warning system. The one thing that AI excels in is analysing and uncovering patterns in vast data swathes. This is precisely what makes AI the perfect tool for modelling and tracking the distribution of the virus. Facebook gives an example of how this ability was utilized in practice; the AI works by sharing anonymized data about people’s movement through mapping software, which enabled Facebook to generate accurate population density estimates that offer a clear picture of when and where people were congregating. Hence, such tools are useful for tracking the virus’s spread and allocating medical resources more efficiently.

  • Diagnosing the Virus: 

First, to control the virus effectively, we need to know who has already overcome the infection, who has it, and who has never been infected. Hence, many companies tackled this challenge by launching the Coronavirus AI solution, which helps clinicians detect and monitor the virus. It even lowers the medical practitioners’ burden by allowing them to locate the virus on images of the patient’s lung, based on the data derived from the vital statistics. AI provides essential information for resource allocation by prioritizing the need for ventilators and respiratory supports in the Intensive care unit.

  • Drug Development: 

Never has mankind witnessed such a race for developing a vaccine against a pathogen or virus. Vaccine development can be a laborious and lengthy process, mainly due to the human immune system’s complexity and its variability among different groups and people. The pace of the discovery can be enhanced manifold by witnessing the power of AI. Entities have leveraged AI platforms, genomics, computing, system biology, and bioinformatics, as these technologies can anticipate where the disease will go next and identify drugs that will be effective against COVID-19.

Way Forward: 

Soon, AI will play a significant role in the pharma industry to explore the healthcare sector’s unmet medical needs. In collaboration with AI companies, many pharma companies can develop cloud-based AI platforms to accelerate their drug discovery programs. These platforms will look for patterns in data and use algorithms to make accurate predictions about the potential drug molecules based on computational structure analysis, drug target, and data from in-vivo cell line studies. Hence, it shows that AI has a massive Pharmaceutical industry application in the coming years.





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Therapeutic Food to Fight Malnutrition

Therapeutic Food to Fight Malnutrition

The developed and underdeveloped countries such as Asia, Africa, and South America face the leading challenges related to Food and Nutrition Insecurity and nutritionally related diseases. Food storage & Poor access to adequate health facilities have taken center stage among the global challenges, especially in the most developing and underdeveloped countries mentioned above. Malnutrition and Undernourishment are the two significant health-related growing issues in the world.

Malnutrition Prevalence in India: 

The significant public health problem in India is malnutrition among under-five children. This is reflected by the fact that underweight children’s prevalence is among the highest in the world in India. It is also observed that the bulk of malnutrition in India is a concentrated phenomenon that is, a relatively small number of districts, states, and villages comprise a large share of the malnutrition burden- only five states and 50% of towns account for about 80% of the malnutrition burden. Also, In India, the prevalence of Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) is 7.5%.

How COVID-19 has worsened the condition of malnutrition?

The pandemic outbreak has only worsened India’s problem of malnutrition. During the coronavirus pandemic in India, Tens of thousands of children slept on an empty stomach. India has taken small steps over the last few years to fight against malnutrition, resulting in a significant decline in the child mortality rate. If this progress were continued, India would have met its ‘sustainable Goal’ of reducing the mortality rate of under-five by 25% by 2030. However, the little progress too came to a halt as the lockdown forced millions of children to stay out of school. Anganwadis were also closed, which meant that thousands of children in rural areas could not get food under the Mid-Day meal program. This led to UNICEF’s conclusion that India is likely to witness an increase in malnutrition by at least 10%.

Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic Food (RUTF) as the Solution to Malnutrition:

Foods designed for specific health-related issues, usually to meet the nutritional requirement, are therapeutic food. The RUTF is a mixture of milk powder, powdered vitamins, minerals, vegetable oil, and peanut butter with the proper nutrients needed by an individual. This medicinal food’s primary purpose is to use it for emergency feeding of malnourished children or to supplement a person’s diet with special nutrition requirements, such as the elderly. RUTF does not require any special preparation before consumption, making it practical and ideal for cooking facilities and fuel limiting constraints.

Case Study: 

Severe acute malnutrition is reported to account for more than one million preventable child deaths. The reported mortality was as high as 20-30%. As per the WHO Diagnostic criteria for diagnosis, a cure rate of 75% with <10% mortality has been set as the minimum goal. Ready to use therapeutic food (RUTF) is used as a solution for managing SAM cases. The case study was carried out in Kerala, among 67 children with SAM admitted in SAT Hospital, Govt. Medical College showed that 33 (51.6%) achieved cure, 18 (28.1%) were not cured, 12 (14.1%) lost to follow up, and 4(6.25%) died, which concludes that the cure rate was less than the goal of 75%, but the mortality was <10%. 





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Importance of Sustainability in the Corporate

Importance of Sustainability in the Corporate

COVID-19 has disrupted many business processes and few have been changed in last ten months. Now, it is time to stabilise and ensure that new systems and SOPs work for improving business. 

Stability is one of the fulcrums and essential elements for sustainability.

To sustain in this environment, 4 pronged approach is essential:

Sustainability is important tool for the corporates for managing reputation & brands. It is extremely important to incorporate sustainability in wide range of a corporate like managing the internal operations, developing regulatory strategy, marketing of products & services as well as attracting & retaining talent. The reason companies incorporates sustainability strategies is basically to maintain and improve company’s reputation, strengthening positive competitiveness, leadership’s personal interest, meeting the expectations of distributors, retailers & others & helps in aligning with the business goals.

These engaged companies do more than others to communicate the programs that involve sustainability through various engagement activities like embedding sustainability data in communication with the investors. The companies should participate in sustainability rankings and/or indexes produced by financial-index companies information provides on socially responsible investing or media or PR firms. The companies should inculcate sustainability through its CSR activities. They can also publish a sustainability section in their corporate website for their external audiences.

Therefore, companies that proactively handle sustainability are far more likely to explore and uncover opportunities for value development. Communicating better with customers and other stakeholders may be a first step in achieving awareness and enhancing the effectiveness of sustainability activities. Companies where sustainability is a top item on the agenda of their CEOs are twice as likely as those to introduce sustainability into the management strategies of their firms. This indicates that senior management who wish to enjoy the advantages of implementing sustainability into the overall policies of their businesses must play an active role in the initiative.

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New Food Labelling Regulations Related to Packaged Food Products

New Food Labelling Regulations Related to Packaged Food Products

On August 23, 2006, India’s government passed the Food Safety and Standard Act or the FSS Act. The FSSAI, i.e., Food Safety and Standard Authority of India, was entrenched under this act. This act is meant to cover or carry out operations related to setting the standard of food articles. This crucial step changed the businesses way involved in food articles in India. The FSSAI standards are based on scientific research. They help regulate the storage, manufacture, sale, import-export, distribution and making all types of other food articles available to the general population.

The FSSAI published new food labelling regulations related to packaged food products, based on the recommendations of the expert group. 

What it is about?

The following provisions are described in the scientific document: 

  • Chapter 1: – Prescribes pre-packaged foods labelling requirements and displays essential information on-premises where food is processed, served, manufactured, and stored. Several definitions have been listed under the context otherwise requires.
  • Chapter 2: – covers the general requirement of labelling pre-packaged foods such as food name, list of ingredients, calculation of nutrients, and nutritional information. Declaration of name and complete address, lot/code/batch identification, Date marking, a declaration regarding food additives, retail sale price, FSSAI logo, and license no., Net quantity and consumer care details. Etc.
  • Chapter 3: – contains a display of information in the food service establishment of the Regulation.
  • Chapter 4: – has the non-retail container labelling requirements.
  • Chapter 5:- Of Regulation indicates the labelling of packaged food additives for retail sale. Mandatory labelling declaration for various food products has been set out in schedule 2.

When is it going to be implemented?

India’s Food safety standards Authority published a “Food Safety and Standards (labelling and display), Regulation 2020 gazette notification on December 14. 2020. The Regulation shall come into force from the date of their disclosure in the Official Gazette. All the Regulation provisions should comply with all the Food Business Operator after one year from their disclosure date except chapter-3 of this Regulation. Food Business Operator shall comply with this by January 1, 2022.

What are the concerns related to this?

Industry concerns: –

  • There has been a concern by the food industry giants regarding the bigger size fonts to be used in the principal display panels.
  • The industrial bodies have complained that it is not feasible for them to use expiration date similar to that of the pharmaceutical industry. They would like to stick to the ‘Best before date.’ for this purpose.
  • The guidelines dictate the menu cards calorific value to the cafe chains and restaurants with more than ten outlets.
  • Further, the guidelines mention that all the E-platform food and beverage sales should communicate the essential requirement to the consumers before the deal, which includes (batch date, best before date, expiry date, and packaging date).





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COVID-19 has changed the e-pharmacy market

Recently, two large mergers have been observed by Indian online pharmacy, which has not seen any substantial action for long due to the absence of proper regulations. 

 A majority stake in Chennai-based e-pharmacy Netmeds was picked up by Reliance Retail, while PharmEasy is integrating with Medlife. Drug distribution services on its website were also revealed by e-commerce firm Amazon. So the question is: has the Coronavirus pandemic outbreak affected the nation’s online pharmacy space? A study by The Indian Express highlighted that COVID-19 and a corresponding behavioural change in e-commerce have allowed or catalysed growth for online pharmacies, if not entirely. It affirmed, however, that the sector was still projected to rise sevenfold to $2.7 billion by 2023.

According to the study, this is partly attributed to the difficulties encountered by traditional pharmacies, giving their online equivalents more impetus. The study, citing experts, highlighted that e-pharmacies are expected to solve problems that conventional pharmacies might not be able to solve and a large-scale online pharmacy space is needed for this, which in turn requires tremendous investment or consolidation.

With over 8 lakh pharmacies and online set-ups, the pharmacy industry is fragmented in India. The study claimed that they both operate on three major business models, including the marketplace, franchise-led hybrid (offline/online) and inventory-led hybrid (offline/online).

However, because of no established regulations agreed by the government, many investments in the online space have been kept at bay until now. It should be remembered that, because e-pharmacies have not been restricted so far, brick and mortar chemists are vying for their operations. The proposed guidelines for e-pharmacies have been set in effect and are intended to describe, among other aspects, internet purchases, the definition of e-prescription and licensing for online businesses. It is also planned to propose how drugs can also be delivered, marketed, and stocked by e-pharmacies.

Therefore, E – pharmacies are bound to play a vital role in the future with the bulk of these patients who, without going to the clinic any time they need a prescription for their medications, will have a strong appetite for quick access to their therapeutics. Experts suggest that, owing to degrading environmental factors and unhealthy habits and diets of Indians, the figure is bound to show a multifold rise in coming years. With the growth of digital literacy in India, it is obvious that prospects are at their height in the e-commerce sector. In addition, the linking of brick and mortar stores with online portals could assist in the joint development of both online and offline pharmacies, thereby giving India’s healthcare sector much-needed improvement.

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Crucial Immune Boosters in Indian System

The recent outbreak of COVID has changed people’s behaviour in many ways, which has even affected the growth of the various market in the right way; being the largest exporter, consumer, and producer of spices, India accounts for half of the global trading in this sector.

Industries such as pharmaceuticals, indigenous alternative medicine, cosmetics, resin, and natural colour use spices in a considerable amount. Any interference in the domestic and global supply chain throws an adverse impact on the supply and production of vital industries and workers involved in spices’ processing and output.

Growth of Immune Boosting Spices during the Pandemic:

Customers across the globe are showing a massive interest in building their immunity and safeguarding their health. India, known as the king of spices, has a vast history of trading with China and Rome’s ancient civilization. The people in large amount has started using the zest with anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties like never to prevent the infection. Some spices double in rate, and many of the herbs have gone out of stock. Since the virus outbreak, there is an increase in the sale of black pepper, garlic, dry ginger, and turmeric.

Export Trend Moves Up:

The observation of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has shown that there is increasing use of spice in the world after the outbreak of a pandemic, which gave a massive rise in exports of Indian spices, by 23 % in dollar terms and 34% in rupee terms in June this year 2020, report by ASSOCHAM. It was found that chilies were the most exported zest from India in the fiscal year, 2020. With an anticipated volume of over 484 thousand metric tonnes. Cumin followed while turmeric ranked third.

Since May 2020, there is a surge in export and the resumption of cardamom e-auction, which has facilitated better price realization by the cardamom growers. The growing trend in exports in the auction prices rose by Rs 600, Touching an average of Rs 1615 per Kg. Around 100 tonnes of cardamom valued at Rs 25 crore have been exported to Saudi since May, the largest customer of Indian cardamom.

Some of the Immune Boosting Spices:

For building immunity, it is necessary to have a balanced diet with the inclination towards immunity boosters.


The bioactive ingredient of garlic, i.e., allicin, is released when the garlic is cut or chopped into pieces. Research has shown that allicin helps in reducing the common cold by 63%. Garlic is used as traditional medicine by major civilizations such as Egyptians, Chinese, and Babylonians since ancient times.


The bioactive agent of turmeric, i.e., curcumin, acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. AYUSH recommends that turmeric powder, basil, and grated ginger are the best immune boosters when consumed daily.


The bioactive compound of ginger, i.e., Gingerol, traditional medicine, is extensively used to cure asthma, coughs and colds, and gastrointestinal complaints. It can be taken either in juice or in tea, or in the form of a dried powder.

Black Pepper:

Pepper acts as a remarkable natural remedy for nasal congestion and sinuses, providing immediate relief. It has been found by research that including black pepper, powdered, or crushed daily, can strengthen the body’s defence, and can improve overall health.



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Technological Intervention- Changing the Dynamics of Nutrition Sector

In providing a promising new route in engaging and delivering successful nutrition intervention in young adults and adolescents, digital technologies such as social media, gamification, health tracking, education, social support and others play a vital role.

Increasing use of social media and smartphones by these age groups is making technology-based interventions specifically pertinent to help this age group and teach positive habits that can be carried further into adult life.

According to a recent review, a technology-based intervention can also help treat mental health, diet modification, physical inactivity and substance abuse.  Robotics and Artificial intelligence also help researchers learn more about the connections between technology and humans.

Emerging Technologies in R&D as a Nutritional Intervention: 

Microarray and nanotechnology, these new emerging technologies can advance the science of nutrition by developing, discovering, and delivering several intervention strategies to improve health and reduce the complication and risk of various diseases.

Food grade nanotechnology and microarray are being increasingly used to improve efficient encapsulation, increasing bioavailability and digestibility.

Supply Chain (Food Blockchain Revolution): 

Blockchain technology is becoming a new level of sharing information and transparency for the farmers to processors to packer to distributor to packaged goods maker to retailer to foodservice operator to the exporter to the consumer, blockchain technology is taking off as a novel for the agri-food business to disclose and record transactions in an open virtual space across the entire chain.

AI Revolutionizing Food Processing and Healthcare Business:

AI is impacting the food processing industry efficiently; it helps the industry both directly and indirectly. It allows farmers with weather predictions, which indirectly produces high-quality raw materials for food processing companies. It instantly soothes the food processing business by food safety compliance, maintaining cleanliness, developing products, and sorting packages and products. 

AI technology even plays a vital role in healthcare by forecasting potential high-risk conditions and improving diagnostic accuracy. With enhanced AI capabilities, robotics equipped with AI robust seems to play a substantial role as surgical assistants, delivery, and transportation aids.

Consumer Awareness through Apps: 

  • Lesson From m-Nutrition:
    m-Nutrition is a global mobile-based advisory service, promotes behavioural change around farming practices and nutrition to boost adults and children’s nutritional health in low-cost countries. This m-Nutrition is a well-designed service that provides individually practical, tailored, and context-particular advice lacking in other information sources.
  • E-Learning to Empower Front-Line Nutrition Workers in India:
    The department of child and women development and FaNS Project of Madhya Pradesh, India, implemented an interactive eLearning platform in February 2019 to provide counselling skills to 97 135 front line supervisors and workers, high-quality, standardized, and systematic training to boost nutrition knowledge. To analyse this digital tool’s effects on front line workers’ capacity-building, a study was conducted in December 2019, which showed that 25,000 have embarked on 40 hours training course and 7000 have completed it. The training benefited ninety-nine percent of participants, and they claimed that the training enhanced their nutrition knowledge and counselling skills. The practice was said to be systematic, comprehensive, and suited to participants’ roles and responsibilities.
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The impact of Covid-19 on API manufacturing & supply

As an industry, we continue to adapt to the global challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and it is generally known that this will be felt for some time to come in the pharmaceutical industry.

Supply concerns are leading India to invest in local production:

The closure of several factories in China following the COVID-19 outbreak has been stated to have created the need for huge changes in the pharmaceutical industry. These factories make the basic raw materials and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) important to providing patients with crucial medicines on a continuous basis. These closures have had a knock-on impact on global supply during such unpredictable and challenging times.

For around 70 percent of the APIs it uses in pharmaceutical manufacturing, India depends on China. China’s coronavirus pandemic could have theoretically turned the tables on India’s $39 billion drug development sector, and numerous meetings with stakeholders were held by India’s Department of Commerce and Pharmaceuticals to promote domestic API manufacturing. In response, the Indian government has set aside $1.2 billion for the pharmaceutical industry and announced the development of a production-related incentive scheme for essential drug and API manufacturing to change the country’s dependency on China’s supply of APIs.

There is tremendous growth in the Indian pharmaceutical industry and it is projected to rise from almost $34.3 billion in 2020 to more than $45 billion by 2025. As part of its’ China-plus-one’ strategy to fill supply gaps, the country is currently undergoing the development of 53 APIs. As India is a major supplier of generic medicines worldwide, these steps are primarily aimed at ensuring and sustaining the supply of medicinal drugs. India is currently projected to remain one of the world’s fastest growing economies.

Increased containment demand and sterile product transition in development

In addition, as pharmaceutical firms continue to hurry to create new medications, including the COVID-19 vaccine, manufacturers are looking at an increased need for sterile production capabilities. They also handle more highly potent active pharmaceutical ingredients (HPAPIs), a development in the industry that has been strengthened by current conditions. In line with this the global market for HPAPIs is projected to hit USD 34.8 billion by 2025, with a rise in rapid relief therapeutics expected to fuel this demand for HPAPIs in emerging countries such as India and China over the forecast period.

In the current pharmaceutical manufacturing climate, with such a rise in the use of HPAPIs and the need for sterile manufacturing expected to continue, pharmaceutical manufacturers need to achieve efficient, validated containment and sterile transfer, a challenge. It is a highly complex job to incorporate diverse technologies supplied by multiple manufacturers into contained and sterile production lines. Known validated split valve-based solutions for the development of common interfaces between different technologies can however, provide a cost-effective and scalable validated way to create a contained environment. In the months and years to come, such technologies will be crucial in preparing the industry for higher power and sterile production.

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Nutraceuticals & Nutrivigilance


The Nutraceutical industry is a booming field in India as the consumers are increasingly gaining exposure to various Dietary supplements and fortified products. Despite increasing awareness, nutrition remains an incompletely understood concept in India and a large portion of the population suffers from Malnutrition in one or the other form. As Nutraceuticals are presumed to be safe and are marketed without prescription in India, it is crucial to impose stringent guidelines and regulations over the active ingredients of nutraceuticals, identity, purity and bioavailability for the rationale use of nutraceuticals. Nutrivigilance is necessary to incorporate monitoring schemes to identify the adverse effects caused by nutraceuticals for the consumer safety.

Reporting by Healthcare providers:
Healthcare providers play a vital role as they are actively connected with patients and consumers. They are also aware of the health profile, history and current medication regimen of their patients. They can thus be tapped as influencers to educate the consumers about ensuring the right Nutrition.

Educating the consumer:
Providing Nutrivigilance guidance, awareness and updates as leaflets to consumers can improve awareness among them. Once again, healthcare providers can be instrumental in explaining potential side effects or inappropriate use and potentially risky combination of Nutraceuticals with other medicines.

Combating adverse effects of Nutraceuticals:

  • Avoiding prolonged use of Nutraceuticals without guidance of healthcare professionals
  • Not taking Nutraceuticals to treat self-diagnosed conditions
  • Not consuming Nutraceuticals with, or instead of Prescription medications without
  • consulting a Healthcare professional
  • Consulting healthcare professionals about the supplements taken before a surgical procedure
  • Abstaining use of Nutraceuticals sold through improper and untrustworthy channels
  • Being cognizant of labels and information provided on Nutraceutical products

Regulatory perspective:
The Dietary Supplement Health and Education act as well as the Food Safety and Standards act have issued rules and regulations regarding registration and licensing of Nutraceuticals in India.
As per norms, the manufacturer:

  • Is accountable for product analysis, development, authentication and safety of Nutraceuticals
  • it makes and supplies
  • Must not print any misleading information on the labels
  • Must not claim that the product will diagnose, treat or prevent any disease
  • Must guarantee purity, composition and identity of their Nutraceuticals

Path Ahead:
The domestic Nutraceutical market is currently experiencing growth. Existing as well as new players are providing nutraceuticals and dietary supplements both locally as well as globally.
With this background, the standardization of these products is one of the valiant challenges for regulators and the industry stakeholders. The need, scope and importance of Nutrivigilance have to be accepted with paramount importance.

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COVID-19 & Digital Transformation- A Catalyst for Change

COVID-19 was a wake-up call for pharma companies to assess the digital sophistication of their company and the potential to serve customised experiences to consumers. COVID-19 has intensified pre-existing developments in several ways: an expansion in the usage of clinical technologies and telemedicine; a drop in access to sales reps; an emphasis on patient experience; the pace of digital innovation through pharmaceutical companies.

These developments were brought into sharper focus by the pandemic and added a sense of urgency; but they were already, by it and wide, in motion. COVID-19 pressed the accelerator rather than applying the brakes on these movements.

It has also uncovered new ways to overhaul a static status quo and make drastic changes in fields that have not yet received similar focus: opportunities to facilitate telemedicine and a wider connected health ecosystem; a move towards a data-driven, tailored concierge approach for reps; deeper reaching simulated medical events; improved patient service services (PSPs) observing data-driven, personalized concierge approach

Although these methods may have been seen in the past in tiny pockets of activity, they are the latest developments influencing the future of the company enterprise. Now is the time for digital transformation to double. It has been thought about by the pharmaceutical industry for years, but today, it must come out of necessity, faster and more thoroughly than anybody expected or was ready for.

The COVID-19 should provide pharmaceutical manufacturers with a wake-up call to assess their own digital sophistication and willingness to represent clients who are tailored to show that they fully understand their requirements. A fair evaluation of the organization’s modern marketing sophistication and a focus of changes are required to meet the evolving demands and responsibilities of sales managers, HCPs, patients and careers.

Marketing leaders must understand how good their business is in three main drivers when making this assessment:

  • Using data to support corporate and marketing strategy
  • To build personal experience for customers
  • Technology to meet consumer requirements

The combined sophistication of data, customer experience and applied technology demonstrates new marketing readiness for an organization; measures against and prioritizes its business objectives. When viewed in this way, it becomes clear where the potential of a business stands, and a course of rapid evolution can be drawn up.


Even before 2020, there were old ways of commercializing pharmaceutical products with brands of blockbusters, traditional releases, clear campaign combinations and generous budgets. The pandemic of COVID-19 has exacerbated these improvements and brought in many of them, including patient adherence, revised HCP practices and vanishing sales reps access. Although customer experience has once evaluated effect on the range of personal sales and frequency, its impact and importance are affected today. Customers – patients as well as HCPs – expect importance and need it more than ever before. Modern marketing impacts consumers who have customised interactions that reflect understanding and sensitivity to their needs.

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