JAPANESE FUNDING OF U.S. UNIVERSITY BIOMEDICAL R&D: NINE FIRMS
JAPANESE FUNDING OF U.S. UNIVERSITY BIOMEDICAL R&D: NINE FIRMS are providing funding to U.S. academic centers and start-up firms, according to information in a new consulting report on the Japanese involvement in the U.S. drug business. The stufy by the SRI International Health Industries Practice is entitled, "Japanese Pharmaceutical Internationalization." The study observes that one of the major trends in the Japanese effort to expand into international businesses is that "many of the major Japanese firms have moved to set up 'R' (discovery research) agreements with important U.S. academic research centers" or "have established networks with both commercial and academic entities to deal with new products." Among the companies cited by SRI as taking on collaborative research agreements are Ajinimoto USA, Chugai, Daiichi, Mitsubushi, Shiseido, Otsuka, Yamanouchi, Kirin and Fujirebio. Chugai's Oct. 3 investment of $30 mil. in the Vertex immunophilin program exemplifies the type of early stage research collaboration. While many of the Japanese firms appear to be taking a slow, small-step approach in U.S. expansion through the R&D collaborations, SRI noted that several of the largest Japanese firms have taken the next step toward large-scale acquisitions of existing businesses. SRI described Fujisawa as the most internationalized of the Japanese firms surveyed. The company has concentrated on establishing its own independent base of U.S. operations, SRI observed, complete with R&D facilities at Fujisawa USA, Inc. Otsuka is characterized by SRI as having "mounted the most aggressive internationalization effort." The company has extensive interests and is part of a privately-owned $4 bil. annual sales conglomerate with 20-plus companies. SRI points out that Otsuka has engaged in "widely diversified" investments purchasing a contrast media and glycoconjugates research firm in Seattle (Oncomembrane) and the $100 mil. Pharmavite vitamin business, building its own two research facilities in Maryland, and maintaining affiliations with several American universities. Otsuka's first home-grown NDA for the U.S. market is expected to be a congestive heart failure product, vesnarinone.
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