Japan pharma market on track for $80B mark by 2020, but obstacles seen

Japan's pharmaceutical market is forecast to reach close to the $80 billion mark by 2020--up from $72.8 billion in 2013--but three big "ifs" could keep it from reaching that mark.

The forecast was issued by RnR Market Research, which said the 2020 figure it put at $79.8 billion could be dragged down by continued emphasis by the Japan government on prescribing generic versions of drugs. The other two obstacles, it said, were its biennial drug-pricing review system and a potential decline of the yen against the American dollar.

The forecast rise to $79.8 billion was based on the market growing at the average rate of 1.3% a year. The research company also labeled Japan as, by value, the world's "second largest mature" market. Other sources, such as Forbes, call China already the second largest.

One good note struck in the report forecasting slow growth was Japan's approval of two drugs before they gained clearance by the U.S. FDA, a signal that Japan's approval process may have caught up with those of other governments.

The drugs were Bristol-Myers Squibb's ($BMY) hepatitis C combo of Daklinza (daclatasvir) and Sunvepra (asunaprevir) and its melanoma drug, Opdivo (nivolumab).

- here's the release