Eisai renews focus on 'more attractive' Japan

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Eisai is coming to believe that there's no place like home. The Japanese drugmaker says it's planning to pull back in the U.S. and refocus on East Asia, and not just because markets such as China are growing so quickly. It's also because of renewal in Japan.

CEO Haruo Naito told The Financial Times he's looking to grow sales in Japan, Korea, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan to account for more than their current 60% of Eisai's revenues. "There is enormous potential" in the region, he told the FT. And a good part of that potential lies in Japan, which "was mature and stagnating," Naito said, but now "is growing again. It is becoming more attractive."

One thing that's helped the Japanese drug market is the government is now cutting prices at a slower pace than it had been in recent years. Plus, the country is trying to streamline its regulatory process to get new drugs onto the market faster. Japan has been notorious for its "drug lag," which often kept foreign products off the market for years after they launched in the U.S. or Europe. The changes have attracted more interest among western drugmakers as well. Big Pharma companies such as Eli Lilly ($LLY) are putting more emphasis on the Japanese market.

What does this mean for the rest of the world? Well, Eisai won't completely bow out of Western markets. But it plans to leave the aggressive expansion in Europe and the U.S. to other Japanese drugmakers such as Daiichi Sankyo and Takeda Pharmaceuticals. "We are focused on East Asia," Naito said.

- see the story from the FT

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