Feb 2008: The Sun Rises in Japan




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Video title: Feb 2008: The Sun Rises in Japan
Released on: February 01, 2008. © PharmaVentures Ltd
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In This Episode:
    For a good part of the 1990s, PharmaVentures did a lot of business in Japan with a broad range of companies.
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For a good part of the 1990s, PharmaVentures did a lot of business in Japan with a broad range of companies. Many were seeking opportunities outside Japan, and that is why they came to us for assistance. Towards the end of the 1990s, the Japanese pharmaceutical market had become competitive and tougher as a result of two factors: the declining prices for reimbursed drugs; and the growth of the larger non-Japanese pharmaceutical companies – such as Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline. Today, the Japanese pharmaceutical industry is seen to have changed considerably as has senior management in Japanese firms. We have been fortunate to see these changes, and are now actively participating in the re-emergence of a stronger industry. We are excited about its future.

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For a good part of the 1990s, we at PharmaVentures did a lot of business in Japan. Clients were a broad range of companies, from Ajinomoto, Kirin and Japan Tobacco through to Mitsui, Meiji Seika Kaisha, Mitsubishi Pharma, Yoshitomi, Kyowa Hakko and Chugai. In those days, there were hundreds of pharmaceutical companies – some large single corporations, like Takeda and Yamanouchi, others subsidiaries of larger corporations, like Ajinomoto and Kirin. Many of them were seeking opportunities outside Japan, and that is why they came to us for assistance. Towards the end of the 1990s, the Japanese pharmaceutical market had become competitive and tougher as a result of two factors: the declining prices for reimbursed drugs; and the growth of the larger non-Japanese pharmaceutical companies – such as Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline – which had blockbuster drugs of their own, and, as independent entities, were no longer reliant on a joint venture with a Japanese company. The first decade of the 21st century has seen a rise in mergers within Japan, “For a good part of the 1990s … PharmaVentures did a lot of business in Japan … [with] a broad range of companies … . Many … were seeking opportunities outside Japan, and that is why they came to us for assistance. Towards the end of the 1990s, the Japanese pharmaceutical market had become competitive and tougher … . Today, the … industry … [has] changed considerably … [as has its] senior management … . At PharmaVentures we have been fortunate to see these changes, and are now actively participating in the … re-emergence of a stronger Japanese … industry. We are excited about its future.” the most famous being that between Yamanouchi and Fujisawa to form Astellas Pharma; another substantial merger was that between Daiichi and Sankyo to form Daiichi Sankyo. Other changes have seen the emergence of smaller biotechs, often spun out of universities. Today, the Japanese pharmaceutical industry has changed considerably. The larger companies have a greater international presence, and no longer see themselves as just regional players. Furthermore, non-Japanese biotechs do not out-license to Japan as a region anymore; they seek global players, so now Japanese pharmas have to have a global competence to in-license innovative drugs from outside Japan. Senior management in Japanese firms has also changed; it now has a far better global appreciation, both in style and decision making. Japanese pharmas are also acquiring Western biotechs with rich technology platforms and product portfolios. Examples include the acquisitions of two antibody-based biotechs: those of Morphotek by Eisai, and of Agensys by Astellas. At PharmaVentures we have been fortunate to see these changes, and are now actively participating in the continued change and re-emergence of a stronger Japanese pharmaceutical industry. We are excited about its future. -Fintan Walton, Chief Executive Officer, PharmaVentures Ltd.
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