Japan is the second largest market for drugs, and the United States is the largest. It accounts for approximately 10% of the global pharmaceutical market. One of the main driving forces behind this large market size is the aging of the Japanese population, meaning that 26% of the Japanese population is 65 years of age or older. While keeping life expectancy high, Japan tops the global list in terms of male and female population. Consequently, the medical needs are increasing; Thus increasing the number of pharmaceutical companies, importers and exporters in Japan.
The Japanese government has taken multiple steps to meet medical needs. The government aims to reduce overall spending on providing adequate healthcare to Japan’s residents. Recently, two major milestones have been staged; Review drug prices every two years and promote generic instead of branded drugs. Branded (patented) medicines are expensive because they bear the cost of research, development and marketing. The Japanese medical industry, especially those focusing on branded drugs, now needs to increase its global presence to mitigate this competition with the generic pharmaceutical industry. Back in the 1990s, the government’s decision to allow the import of drugs had already restricted businesses available only to local pharmaceutical companies.
In this context, it has become imperative for the Japanese medical industry to invest in clinical research to facilitate globalization. It has been observed that Japanese companies spend less budget on research and development compared to US and European companies. Japanese pharmaceutical companies have long used internal clinical trials for domestic tests. However, the increasing global demand for the development of new drugs necessitates research and development including clinical trials. This created space for the Contract Research Organization (CRO) to come forward. Thus, the domestic and international CRO industry is one of the direct focus markets for Japanese pharmaceuticals.
Since the Japanese government is well aware of all the changes underway, steps have been taken to reduce the length of the review process for introducing a new drug in Japan. Recent guidelines allow the use of non-Japanese trial data to facilitate rapid introduction of new drugs on the market. Likewise, it entails exporting Japanese medicines to clinical research organizations around the world for use in clinical trials. Hence, most of the Japanese pharmaceutical companies have already started exporting drugs for clinical CRO screening.
With a large number of pharmaceutical companies in the market, it is now imperative to use technology in developing, testing and promoting Japanese medicine. The Ministry of Health is also assisting technologically advanced companies that are planning international expansion. In this context, online availability of Japanese medicines has become vital for effective marketing.
In conclusion, we reaffirm that the Japanese pharmaceutical industry needs to expand its business worldwide for long-term sustainability. Contract research organizations can give them significant support to measure their inventions by organizing structured clinical trials.