Japan eyes higher target for generics despite missing earlier aims

Japan Health Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki

Although it has not even reached its goal of generics comprising 60% of drugs prescribed in Japan, the government is about to raise it to 80% or 90%, according to reports.

Health Minister Yasuhisa Shiozaki revealed the new goal which the country aims to reach by the end of fiscal year 2017, the Japan Times said. The public-private Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy has been weighing the issue.

Private-sector members of the council have urged the government to increase its target to the range of Europe and the United States. Yet, the Times said, as of September 2013, generics accounted for only 46.9% of drug prescriptions.

The Fiscal System Council of the Finance Ministry also has urged attempts to reach any of the targets sooner than planned to help trim the nation's medical expenses.

Nikkei reported the move was prompted by a forecast that Japan would spend a staggering $1.23 trillion on healthcare within the next 10 years.

Government advisers have recommended a larger co-pay for patients who choose the branded version of a drug over its generic, Nikkei said.

Much of the growing cost of healthcare stems from an explosion in Japan's aging population and along with them, the cost of the drugs and treatments they receive under the nation's national healthcare coverage.

Japan's debt burden is considered the heaviest in the developed world, its debt more than double its $5 trillion economy, according to a report by Reuters.

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