MHLW urges Japan's generics sector to consolidate

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Generics firms were among the attendees at CPhI Japan in April
Generics firms were among the attendees at CPhI Japan in April

Related tags Food and drug administration Pharmaceutical industry Japan

The Japanese Government says consolidation of the country’s generics sector is needed to secure supplies.

The plan was outlined at a meeting on Monday where representatives from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) met with industry groups to discuss – among other topics - its latest ideas for promoting the use of non-branded pharmaceuticals in the country.

According to the minutes of the meeting (embedded below in Japanese) the MHLW suggested consolidation of the country’s generics industry – which is primarily made up of small and midsized companies – is needed to further encourage use of non-branded meds.

The Japanese Government has been trying to encourage generic use since 2007​ as a way of reducing public healthcare spending. Use increased as a result, although not as rapidly as expected. In 2013, 28% of all drugs sold in Japan were non-branded products.

Previous generic promotion efforts have included price reductions which have also increased usage according to Masaki Muto, chairman of the Japan Generic Medicines Society (JGA) who spoke at CPhI Japan in Tokyo in April​.

Brand loyalty

Whether the pricing measures will be sufficient to help the MHLW hit its target – the agency wants generic drugs to hold 60% market share by the end of fiscal 2017 (here in Japanese​) – remains to be seen.

Previously Chase VanDuzer, a senior associate at consulting and recruitment organization at Apex, told us brand loyalty is a more important factor in Japan than in other markets.

Even with this [MHLW generics promotion] policy, it may not be achieved as Japanese people still have a sort of ‘brand loyalty’ mind-set. A couple years ago, I met a senior member of Pfizer who explained that in the US, Lipitor lost 75% of its market share while in Japan, it kept 75%.”

   Japan's pharma plan

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