WHIPPANY, NJ: In the fight against the Zika virus, Bayer has donated contraception and mosquito control products to the CDC Foundation.
The donations are being sent to Puerto Rico, where there is already local transmission of Zika. Bayer donated 90,000 intrauterine devices and birth control pills, 700,000 samples of its mosquito-control product K-O Tab, and 10,000 treated mosquito nets.
Bayer started working on the effort in March, spearheaded by Ray Kerins, the company’s SVP, head of comms, government relations, and policy, and his team.
Kerins said Bayer is uniquely suited to address Zika, with an agricultural division that produces insecticides and a pharmaceutical division with a number of women’s health products.
"We’re talking about a mosquito-borne disease like Zika and then it’s a women’s health issue as well," Kerins said. "When you look at the two issues, we’re the only company that has significant expertise in both areas."
Bayer is also supporting education efforts in Puerto Rico concerning pregnancy prevention and mosquito control. The company already has people on the ground working to train local doctors in Puerto Rico about the donated products and providing expertise about the virus, Kerins said.
Last month, Bayer also sponsored the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Zika Action Plan Summit in Atlanta.
"When we decide to do something we believe is right for society, we don’t do it for public acclaim," Kerins said. "We’re doing it because it's the right thing to do. People need help and we have answers and solutions."
No external PR firms are assisting Bayer with comms around this effort.
Zika virus has begun making its way into the U.S. and its territories. At this time, there are 591 travel-related cases in the U.S., according to the CDC, and more than 935 cases of local transmission in U.S. territories. Latin and South American countries have been dealing with the virus since late last year. The virus most notably affects pregnant women and fetuses causing birth defects, like brain abnormalities and microcephaly.