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No. 365, February 2000

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Japanese Companies in the US


The undisputed global leader in polyester films is in business with a dedicated manufacturing, marketing and technical presence in all regions of the world. The result of the integration of the polyester film operations of TEIJIN LTD. in Japan and Indonesia with those of longtime partner E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS & CO., INC. in the United States, Scotland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the People's Republic of China, the equally owned joint venture has the capacity to turn out more than 300,000 tons of value-added products a year (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, p. 2). It has some 4,000 employees and anticipates annual revenues on the order of $1.4 billion. Production and research facilities in the United States are in Circleville, Ohio, the location of a former Teijin-DuPont polyester film plant; Hopewell and Spruance, Virginia; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Florence, South Carolina; Old Hickory, Tennessee; and Wilmington, Delaware.

KURARAY CO., LTD. and ROGERS CORP. have agreed to commercialize a new type of electronic circuit material that promises to enable the manufacture of smaller, lighter and faster interconnections — a valuable attribute for next-generation wireless communications products and data transmission applications. The focus of the tie-up is liquid crystalline polymer-based laminate technology. Kuraray has developed a production process that eliminates many of the previous technical hurdles to the use of LCP-based electronic circuit materials in that its technology allows uniform extrusion of LCP resin into circuit-grade films. The Japanese chemical company and its Rogers, Connecticut-head-quartered partner, a producer of specialty materials, are providing samples of the LCP-based circuit materials to customers for evaluation.

In an unusual move for a trading company, TOMEN CORP. is providing financial backing to a team of scientists at Harvard University's medical school working on a more effective blood-clotting preventative. The thrombolytic agent is based on a mutant of prourokinase, which easily converts to urokinase in plasma and triggers bleeding in some patients. The M5 molecule being investigated by the Harvard team, which also discovered prourokinase, is stable in plasma and, thus, does not produce an adverse reaction. Tomen will cover the research and development costs of the multistage program in exchange for exclusive worldwide marketing rights to the resulting thrombolytic drug and a half ownership interest in the M5 molecule.

A fourth major Japanese pharmaceutical company has contracted to use QUARK BIOTECH, INC.'s pathology-specific gene discovery know-how to find the culprits associated with various diseases (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 364, January 2000, p. 3). SHIONOGI & CO., LTD. tapped the Pleasanton, California company to discover, identify and analyze genes associated with osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease for which no remedies currently exist. It then will attempt to develop treatment and diagnostic candidates based on these genes. Shionogi will have exclusive marketing rights in Asia to any resulting products; elsewhere, it and Quark will share distribution responsibilities.

Hoping to fill its new drug pipeline faster in the area of neurodegenerative diseases, FUJISAWA PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. entered into a drug discovery collaboration with ARENA PHARMACEUTICALS, INC. The new partners are focusing on what are called orphan G protein-coupled receptors. Using the San Diego, California biopharmaceutical company's CART Technology, they will be able to directly identify modulators of these receptors. The Japanese drug firm will decide which receptors to investigate further, with Arena then developing appropriate screening assays. Although financial details were not released, Fujisawa Pharmaceutical will make license and milestone payments to Arena as well as pay royalties on sales of any products that emerge from leads discovered during the partnership.

In a similar pairing, KISSEI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. will tap the genomics expertise of SYNAPTIC PHARMACEUTICAL CORP. to identify and develop drugs that act through novel receptors. The Parmus, New Jersey firm brings to this job its cDNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) library normalization technology, which it says facilitates the discovery of receptor genes not found with commercially available cDNA libraries. Discovered receptors will be assayed using Synaptic's Universal Functional Assay. The project will run for three years, during which time Kissei Pharmaceutical will provide research funding to Synaptic as well as make licensing and milestone payments. Royalty payments also will be due on any drugs that are commercialized. The Japanese partner will have exclusive worldwide rights to use selected receptors resulting from the collaboration to develop, make and market drugs that operate through these channels. The disease targets of interest to Kissei Pharmaceutical were not disclosed.

KIRIN BREWERY CO., LTD. and MEDAREX, INC., which separately have developed genetically engineered mice that contain human genes for making antibodies, forged a global alliance to advance the technology for creating fully human monoclonal antibodies. In exchange for up-front fees of $12 million, Kirin will have exclusive rights to distribute its Princeton, New Jersey collaborator's HuMAb-Mouse technology in Asia. At the same time, Medarex will be the sole marketer outside Asia of Kirin's Transchromosomic Mouse. Equally important, each company will be able to use the other's technology for in-house development of human antibody-based products for the treatment of cancer, heart disease, infectious disease, autoimmune disease and other serious conditions. Of significance as well, Kirin and Medarex plan to meld their respective technologies in an attempt to create a new approach to the development of fully human antibodies.

TAP PHARMACEUTICALS INC. submitted a new drug application to the Food and Drug Administration for Spectracef (cefditoren pivoxil) to treat respiratory tract infections. The Deerfield, Illinois firm, equally owned by TAKEDA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES, LTD. and ABBOTT LABORATORIES, licensed the broad-spectrum cephalosporin antibiotic from MEIJI SEIKA KAISHA, LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 2). TAP Pharmaceuticals believes that the potency of Spectracef will enable it to fight bacterial infections that show increasing resistance to some other types of antibiotics.

The FDA approved for U.S. marketing a treatment commercialized by SNOW BRAND MILK PRODUCTS CO., LTD. in cooperation with NIPPON KAYAKU CO., LTD. for the autoimmune disease Sjogren's Syndrome. This problem, which largely affects women, causes inflammation of the glands that produce tears and salvia. Snow Brand's remedy, Cevimelin, is a selective agonist that stimulates tear and salivary production. DAIICHI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD.'s Fort Lee, New Jersey subsidiary expects to launch sales of Cevimelin at the end of March. It is projecting sales of $200 million over five years. Cevimelin is the first Snow Brand product to be sold in the United States.

CALPIS CO., LTD. has decided to exploit the money-making potential of its world-renown lactic acid bacteria fermentation technology by licensing it to foreign companies. MONSANTO CO. is the first firm to negotiate an agreement for what Calpis calls Lactotripeptide. The license allows the biotechnology giant to use the know-how for nutritional foods other than beverages — an application that the Japanese firm intends to develop on its own — and for yogurt and other products containing active cultures. For now, Monsanto's license is limited to North America, although its marketing territory will be expanded in time. This is the second U.S.-related deal that Calpis has concluded in recent months. Previously, it gave an ITOCHU CORP. company the right to market its Calsporin feed additive (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 363, December 1999, p. 7).

An exchange rate of ¥105=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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