While the emerging markets already making up a third of its healthcare sales last year, Bayer is looking at further opportunities, specifically in Africa.

In 2013, the emerging markets accounted for 33% of total healthcare sales, or 6.24 billion euros. The largest increase in absolute terms occurred in China, mainly due to continued expansion of Bayer's distribution network, and the company said achieved "gratifying sales growth in Russia", due primarily to the performance of its consumer care products.

When asked by PharmaTimes at the German group's annual press conference in Leverkusen at the end of last month which countries aside from China and Russia are priorities, Bayer chief executive Marijn Dekkers (pictured) said "we are very active in most or all of the emerging markets, Brazil is extremely important to us". Southeast Asia is another area offering growth, he added, especially Thailand and the Phillipines.

Dr Dekkers then said that "high on the agenda in 2014 is an African strategy". Healthcare sales there are in the region of 650 million euros at the moment, a figure that should rise significantly given the development of a more affluent middle class, he noted.

However, he added "it is not easy as no country in Africa is the same". Olivier Brandicourt, the newly-installed CEO of the Bayer HealthCare division, told PharmaTimes that Kenya, Tanzania, Ivory Coast, Cameroon and Nigeria, as well as South Africa, are countries of considerable potential.