Bayer hires Nestle head to combat Amazon effect in consumer health

Bayer, the Leverkusen, Germany-based drugmaker tapped the head of Nestle's baby food business, Heiko Schipper, in an effort to boost its consumer health revenue, which has been on the decline as buyers increasingly turn to online retailers like Amazon, Reuters reports.

Mr. Schipper will replace Erica Mann as the head of the Consumer Health Division when she leaves the post March 31, 2018.

A number of pharmaceutical companies have been caught off guard by the speed of U.S. consumers opting to purchase their over-the-counter drugs online, in what some have deemed an "Amazon effect."

"The U.S. is the market that is facing tremendous structural changes," said the outgoing executive, Ms. Mann, earlier this month on a third-quarter earnings call. "We also noted in the U.S. market significant channel shifts, such as an acceleration towards e-commerce and, in particular, I can call it the Amazon effect... Consumer behaviors are shifting and they're really moving towards e-commerce channels as well as searching for value."

Pfizer and Merck are preparing for the industry's shake-up, too, with plans to their OTC businesses. Other U.S. drugstore chains have merged in response to the online threat, and CVS Health announced plans to establish next-day delivery in competition with Amazon's potential entry into the market.

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