Japanese Pharmaceutical Industry: An Insight Into Globalization

Japan is the second largest market for pharmaceuticals, with the US being the largest. It represents almost 10% of the world pharmaceutical market. One of the major driving force behind this large market size is the aging of Japanese population i.e. 26% of the Japanese population is 65 years or older. Keeping a higher life expectancy, Japan tops the world list both in male and female population. Consequently, the medical needs are at a surge; thus, boosting the number of pharmaceutical companies, importers, and exporters in Japan.

The Japanese government has taken multiple steps to address the medical needs. The government’s aim is to reduce the overall expenditure in delivering the adequate healthcare to the Japanese population. Recently, two major breakthroughs were regulated; biennial drugs price revision and promotion of generic drugs instead of branded drugs. The branded (patented) drugs are costly as they bear the cost of research, development, and commercialization. Japanese medical industry, especially those who focus on branded drugs, now need to increase its global presence to relieve this competition with generic drugs industry. Back in the 1990s, the government’s decision to allow import of medicines had already restricted the business available to the domestic-only pharmaceutical companies.

In this context, it has become vital for the Japanese medical industry to invest in clinical research facilitating the globalization. It has been observed that the Japanese companies have been spending less budget on research & development as compared to the American and European companies. Japanese pharmaceutical companies have long been using the in-house clinical trials for the domestic testing. However, the increasing global demand for new drug development necessitates the R&D including the clinical trials. This provided a space for contract research organization (CRO) to come forward. The local and international CRO industry is, thus, one of the immediate focus markets for the Japanese pharmaceuticals.

As the Japanese government is well-aware of all ongoing changes, steps are being taken to reduce the length of the review process for the introduction of a new drug in Japan. The recent guidelines have allowed the use of non-Japanese trial data for facilitating a quick introduction of novel drugs in the market. Likewise, it necessitates the export of Japanese medicine to clinical research organizations worldwide for use in clinical trials. Consequently, most the Japanese pharmaceutical companies have already started exporting the drugs for clinical CRO examination.

With a high number of pharmaceutical companies in the market, it is now unavoidable to use technology in development, testing and promotion of Japanese medicine. The department of health also helps the companies who are technologically advanced and are planning international expansion. In this context, the online availability of Japanese pharmaceuticals has become vital for effective marketing.

In conclusion, it is to reiterate that the Japanese pharmaceutical industry needs to expand their business worldwide for a long-term sustainability. Contract research organizations can provide them a big support for benchmarking their inventions by organizing structured clinical trials.

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