Japanese drugmakers shift focus as government pushes for more generics

Tokyo

Top Japanese drugmakers are moving to sell off their noncore businesses and less profitable generic drugs to focus on new drugs that are protected by patents and that bring in millions more in revenue.

The most recent case was Tokyo-based Takeda Pharmaceuticals which announced that as part of its joint venture with Israel's Teva Pharmaceuticals Industries ($TEVA) it would offload its off-patent and generic drugs to the joint venture to concentrate on new medicines.

Astellas Pharma, based in Tokyo, also said a recent acquisition would see it sell off its overseas dermatology business and Tokyo-based Eisai said it would merge its gastrointestinal business with another company, sell off a subsidiary involved in diagnostic drugs and sell another pharma subsidiary.

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Takeda said that part of its new focus would be its joint research plan with Kyoto University's Center for iPS Cell Research and Application.

Eisai, which has seen falling domestic sales for its off-patent dementia and ulcer medications, announced last October its intention to combine its gastrointestinal business with a subsidiary of Ajinomoto and shift its focus to new drugs for neural problems and new drugs for cancer, according to a report in the Japan News.

The impetus for all these moves is the Japanese government's policy of encouraging generic drugs to cut medical expenses that are growing due to Japan's aging population. The government issued its "Basic Policies for Economic and Fiscal Management and Reform" last year with the goal of having generic drugs make up 80% of the market by 2020.

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