Japan's Eisai plans major rollout in coveted Russian market

Russia is a coveted, if challenging, market for drugmakers looking for new sources of revenue. Its double-digit market growth has not escaped the notice of Japan's Eisai, which is planning a major launch of a number of its products there. 

Eisai will open up a sales and marketing office in Moscow, Pharma Times reports, to set the stage for a rollout next quarter of its breast cancer drug, Halaven. After that, Eisai says it will market its epilepsy drugs Zonegran and Exalief and go to regulators there for approval of Fycompa and Inovelon.

Eisai forecasts that the Russian drug market will hit $60 billion by 2020 and is expanding much faster than most of the more developed countries, with the "potential for double-digit growth in the next six years." Patients there with money in their pockets want the best drugs they can get, and those are not made by Russian drugmakers. Eisai, of course, is following in the footsteps of a number of competitors that have been doing as much or more to cash in on Russia's growing appetite for top-flight treatments. Novartis ($NVS), AstraZeneca ($AZN), GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Novo Nordisk ($NVO) are among the drugmakers that are socking big money into Russian infrastructure and partnerships.

But Russia's President Vladimir Putin wants something in return. He is looking to require drugmakers to manufacture in the country to sell there, even as it protects its own smaller drugmaking industry. He recently said the country will bar overseas suppliers of particular meds if at least two domestic alternatives are already available. 

- read the Pharma Times story