Research could help develop sophisticated treatments for Type I diabetes

February 04, 2016

In recent years, Japanese pharmaceutical companies have been slow to innovate as a result of strict safety regulations, which have made it difficult for foreign drugmakers to launch products on the market. For years, this gave local players a virtual monopoly in the domestic pharmaceutical sector. But the lack of competition meant that Japanese drugmakers did not push the boundaries regarding product development. They are now trying to reverse this trend and in November 2009, Japan's Takeda announced that it had acquired the rights to US-based Amylin Pharmaceuticals portfolio of obesity treatments in a deal that could reach US$1bn. Takeda has paid a US$75mn upfront fee for one experimental therapy from Amylin, which combines diabetes drug Symlin (pramlintide) with the hormone leptin - which is related to weight loss. The remainder of the deal is linked to milestone payments. Takeda is keen to expand in the highpotential obesity market as it looks to replace sales from it blockbuster diabetes drug Actos (pioglitazone), which loses patent protection in 2011.

Meanwhile, Japan's advanced drug sector and high per-capita spend on medicine ensures that it stays in second position in the Business environment Ratings for the region. However, the maturity of the market means that pharmaceutical sector growth will only be marginal in the coming years.