TOKYO -- Takeda Pharmaceutical and other Japanese drugmakers are broadening their over-the-counter business overseas as burgeoning inbound demand by foreign tourists boosts brand recognition.
Takeda is laying the groundwork for exporting its mainstay Alinamin vitamins to mainland China, aiming for a launch within the next three years pending government approval and other potential delays. Among other places, the company made inroads in Thailand in 2014 and in South Korea and Hong Kong the next year.
The drugmaker will spin off the over-the-counter segment, hoping to have it up and running in April of next year. Overseas sales of Alinamin are pegged as a growth pillar, with the company eyeing Vietnam and India as future markets.
Another Japanese pharmaceutical maker, Ryukakusan, will begin marketing in Taiwan a jelly used to help children take medicine as early as this summer. Next year, the company will start exporting a throat medicine to Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Tokyo-based drug companies Kinkan and Yamazaki Teikokudo are also mulling expansions to Hong Kong and Vietnam within three years.
Foreign tourists to Japan are purchasing roughly 40 billion yen ($352 million) in nonprescription medicine annually, according to industry figures, indicating that Japanese manufacturers enjoy healthy name recognition in Asia. Companies are playing catch-up to Taiko Pharmaceutical and Taisho Pharmaceutical Holdings, which each generate about 20% of sales in foreign markets.