Japan's drug sector to unite for emerging-market push
Tokyo will help establish financial, legal footing for cross-industry group
TOKYO -- Around 25 Japanese companies including Eisai and Takeda Pharmaceutical plan to jointly develop and distribute medicines in emerging economies, leveraging a government partnership to take on Western giants.
The group will aim to develop markets for medicines in such regions as Asia and Africa. Members will form a corporation within the year under government leadership and kick off operations in Vietnam and Thailand in fiscal 2019.
Authorities including the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will support the venture financially via a sovereign fund, as well as lay groundwork by negotiating with target countries on drug policy reform. Businesses will cooperate to build and manage pharmaceutical plants as well as to distribute products.
Such major and midsize drugmakers as Fuji Pharma and Kyowa Hakko Kirin will join wholesalers including Medipal Holdings and Alfresa Holdings. Yamato Logistics, infrastructure builder JGC and others are also expected to fill out the cross-industry group.
Underdeveloped legal frameworks make some emerging economies risky territory for companies to explore alone. But major American and European drugmakers are charging into such markets in anticipation of growing health and nursing care demand.
Team Japan is wading in as well. Tokyo's Kitahara International Hospital is set to open a rehabilitation center at a national hospital in the Vietnamese city of Hanoi, and government cooperation should speed overseas expansion by businesses.