Japan-US Business Report LogoJapan-U.S. Business Report

No. 340, January 1998

Issue Index

 American Companies in Japan


In another move to expand its Japanese agrichemical business, AMERICAN CYANAMID CO.'s subsidiary bought a plant in Koriyama, Fukushima prefecture from KORIYAMA CHEMICAL CO., LTD. for herbicide production. The factory, which has an annual capacity of about 13,000 tons, is Cyanamid's second in Japan. It will enable the company to integrate production of such weed killers as Utopia and cut costs over the medium to long term. Previously, the final manufacturing phase was outsourced to Koriyma Chemical. Cyan-amid also is introducing new products to the local market as well as trying to sell more of its line directly (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 336, September 1997, p. 10).

GREAT LAKES CHEMICAL CORP. sold to partner KAO CORP. its half interest in a joint venture that makes and markets furan resins for the foundry industry. The company was formed in 1974 by the chemical division of QUAKER OATS CO. and Kao. Great Lakes acquired its 50 percent stake when it bought Quaker Oats' chemical division in 1986. The West Lafayette, Indiana manufacturer said that the Kao-Quaker venture did not fit with its emphasis on specialty chemicals.

As part of a wide-ranging collaboration between BIOGEN, INC. of Cambridge, Massachusetts and MERCK & CO., INC. on a new class of compounds for asthma and other anti-inflammatory indications, Merck affiliate BANYU PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. will manage clinical development and the approval process in Japan for one of Biogen's proprietary compounds. The candidate has not yet been selected. Whatever it is, Biogen will retain Japanese marketing rights. The company, which develops drugs through genetic engineering, described the arrangement as the first step in its strategy for moving into Japan.

BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM GMBH exercised its option to develop, commercialize and market in Japan a treatment for acute respiratory distress syndrome developed by TRANSCEND THERAPEUTICS, INC. Procysteiner i.v., now in Phase III clinical studies in the United States, is the Cambridge, Massachusetts company's lead product. It is an alternative to mechanical ventilation for people who have severe lung dysfunction associated with massive, acute inflammation. BI is responsible for all costs related to development and approval. Transcend will receive royalties on sales.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare approved for marketing Norvir (ritonavir), an HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) protease inhibitor developed by ABBOTT LABORATORIES. The importer and marketer is Osaka-based DAINABOT CO., LTD., which is owned by Abbott and DAINIPPON PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. The latter firm is the distributor. Norvir is used in combination with nucleoside analog reverse transcriptase inhibitors for the treatment of AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) or symptomatic and asymptomatic HIV infections.

In its second licensing arrangement with a Japanese company, IDEC PHARMACEUTICALS gave KIRIN BREWERY CO., LTD. the right to use its proprietary vector technology for high expression of recombinant proteins in mammalian cells. The San Diego, California company will receive an up-front licensing fee of $6.3 million as well as royalties on sales of Kirin products manufactured using the know- how. In the spring of 1996, IDEC Pharmaceuticals licensed the same technology to CHUGAI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD.

A major international developer and manufacturer of drug delivery systems, R.P. SCHERER CORP., is formulating a new dosage form for one of SANKYO CO., LTD.'s leading drugs. The Troy, Michigan company's patented Zydis technology enables products to be made so that they rapidly dissolve on the tongue and can be swallowed without liquids.

In a similar arrangement designed to help patients who have trouble swallowing tablets or capsules, the Eurand unit of AMERICAN HOME PRODUCTS CORP. is developing a taste-masked, controlled-release formulation of one of NIKKEN CHEMICALS CO., LTD.'s pharmaceutical products. Its technology is the patented Liquitard system, which consists of tiny, taste-masked and/or controlled-release granules in a temporary or a permanent suspension. The granules are packaged in single-dose amounts.

MALLINCKRODT INC. hopes to capitalize on the spread of nuclear medicine in Japan by signing DAI-ICHI RADIOISOTOPE LABORATORIES LTD. as the exclusive distributor of certain of its radiopharmaceutical products. Nuclear medicine uses small doses of radioactive materials in combination with substances that carry them to specific body organs to diagnose or treat disease. The diagnostic images are captured by a gamma camera. As part of the agreement, the St. Louis company will the sole distributor of specific DRL products outside Japan.

An exchange rate of ¥130=$1.00 was used in this report.

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