Growth of Japanese Pharma Market Driven by Biologics and Generic Drugs, Says CPhI Report

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Companies believe that biologics and biosimilars would experience the fastest growth over the next year; there is also interest on increasing market penetration of generic drugs.

CPhI Japan, organized by UBM EMEA and UBM Asia, returned to Tokyo for its 16th edition on April 19–21, 2017. New research into the Japanese pharmaceutical market was released at the show. More than 90 domestic and international companies who attended the event were surveyed to gauge growth opportunities in Japan. Domestic companies have projected a 17% growth in 2017, citing renewed buoyancy in the Japanese pharmaceutical economy following several years of limited growth.

According to a sector-by-sector analysis, 56% of companies believe that biologics and biosimilars would experience the fastest growth over the next year. The research highlighted that the most popular biopharmaceutical product classes under development are the anticancer (72%) and enhanced immune class drugs (48%)-including cutting-edge technologies such as checkpoint inhibitors, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies, antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs) and monoclonal antibodies (mAbs).

“The ever rising demand for anticancer drugs and high margins combined with Japan’s robust reimbursement system for patented drugs make it an attractive market for companies to invest in and develop new drugs,” commented Rutger Oudejans, brand director at CPhI for Asia and North America, in a press statement.

Japan is said to have the world’s third largest pharma industry with a thriving domestic market traditionally. Only 18% of business for Japanese pharma companies were undertaken in international markets. The research by CPhI, however, noted that more than two thirds of the companies surveyed are now looking to target international markets over the next year. Half of these companies are targeting the United States, 27% are focusing on China and Korea, but very few are looking to enter Europe. This trend is thought to be due to the favorable reimbursement systems within the US, while cultural ties to neighboring high growth economies also provide opportunities.

The Japanese government is looking to increase the market penetration of generic drugs; 28% of those surveyed stated that the “greatest potential for growth lies with finished dose generic drugs.” A majority (60%) of Japanese pharma companies believe that domestic manufacturers will meet the country’s generic pharmaceutical demands. However, they acknowledge that there is also a role for international manufacturers; 26% agree that there are large opportunities for Indian generic drug manufacturers in particular.


Many Japanese players (80%) are reviewing their strategic approach to tackle the impending patent cliff, with 77% expecting an increase in the number of partnerships between Japanese pharma and generic drug companies. The success of the Takeda–Teva collaboration has provided a model that companies can replicate when looking for potential future partnerships.

The complete report and analysis will be available later in 2017 on the CPhI Pharma Insights website.

Source: CPhI