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

No. 347, August 1998

Issue Index

American Companies in Japan


The Tokyo subsidiary of BOSTON SCIENTIFIC CORP., a world leader in products for minimally invasive surgical treatment, has opened a technology and training center in Satohara, Miyazaki prefecture. The 20 people now on staff will work on new and advanced technologies and procedures tailored to the Japanese market. Pilot manufacturing lines at the Miyazaki Techno Research Park facility will allow the company to test production of the resulting products. The center also will be used for intensive training of medical personnel in the use of the Natick, Massachusetts company's coronary catheters and other products.

Meanwhile, sales of BOSTON SCIENTIFIC CORP.'s Discovery intravascular ultrasound catheter have started. Used to image the diseased portions of coronary arteries, the device provides visual information to the physician about the extent and the morphology of the plague that is not generally obtainable with coronary angiography. For instance, it reveals whether the plaque is hard or soft. That additional knowledge helps the doctor chose the best therapy. The one-time-use Discovery catheter costs about $1,600.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare also approved for marketing CARDIODYNAMICS INTERNATIONAL CORP.'s BioZ System (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 344, May 1998, p. 16). Like the San Diego, California company's other products, it uses thoracic electrical bioimpedance technology to obtain data on cardiac output. It is an alternative to invasive pulmonary artery catheterization procedures. Tokyo-based B.C.S. SYSTEMS, INC. is distributing the BioZ System.

A Burlington, North Carolina company that manufactures the only integrated, automated sample preparation and image analysis system to support cytotechnologists and pathologists in cervical cancer screening has branched out but still is relying on MEDICAL & BIOLOGICAL LABORATORIES CO., LTD. to distribute its products. AUTOCYTE, INC. has given the Nagoya company worldwide marketing rights to ImageTiter, a system that allows the quantitative assessment of antinuclear antibodies in a patient's blood sample. This measurement is essential in the evaluation of such autoimmune disorders as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. The 10-year arrangement requires MBL to make an initial payment of $1 million. AutoCyte also awarded MBL exclusive distribution rights in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to the AutoCyte Pathology Workstation, a line of computer-assisted image analysis tools that provide quantitative measurement of cellular materials. That information enables pathologists to make more reliable diagnoses. The U.S. company's mainstay products are the integrated PREP and SCREEN systems for early detection of cervical cancer.

UROMED CORP. of Needham, Massachusetts signed a JOHNSON & JOHNSON subsidiary as the exclusive distributor of its INTROL Bladder Neck Support Prosthesis, a treatment for female urinary incontinence. The three-year deal requires the J&J company to make annual minimum purchases.

Marketing of EXACTECH, INC.'s knee replacement product will kick off in late September now that MHW has cleared for sale the Gainesville, Florida company's Optetrak system. Tokyo-based TOKIBO CO., LTD. is the exclusive distributor of Exactech's orthopedic implant products, which also include the AuRA hip replacement system.

Late this year, wearers of contact lenses in Japan, the world's second- largest market for this product, will have a new option. WESLEY JESSEN VISIONCARE, INC. has received MHW's go-ahead to market its FreshLook clear disposable lenses there. The Des Plaines, Illinois manufacturer of specialty soft contact lenses now is seeking marketing approval for its FreshLook Colors lenses, which it hopes to launch during 1999.

Aptly named TALKING SIGNS, INC. has licensed MITSUBISHI PRECISION CO., LTD. to make and market its line of remote infrared signs that enable vision-impaired people to navigate public places and transit systems. A demonstration Talking Signs system already has been installed at the Rapport Center in Yokohama. Other obvious places for Talking Signs transmitters are mass transit systems and their stops, crosswalks and public buildings. As part of the deal, Mitsubishi Precision took an undisclosed equity interest in the Baton Rouge, Louisiana company.

Safeguarding corporate computer networks should be more effective with COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s fingerprint identification system. A camera takes a picture of an authorized user's fingerprint, which, via software, is transformed into an image stored for reference. A small reader attached to any Windows-based PC verifies the person's identity when he or she logs onto the network. Compaq's subsidiary had a late August ship date for the English-language version of the system, which includes the fingerprint identification reader and software. A localized system should be available sometime in November. It, too, will cost $135.

The Accumeasure 9000 dual-channel summing amplifier from MECHANICAL TECHNOLOGY INC. is on the market through MICRON CO., LTD. Designed for thickness measurement with nanometer resolution on the production line, the Latham, New York company's product can be used with any of its standard probes or custom ones. A bar graph display indicates the probe gap of each channel. The Tokyo distributor priced the standard Accumeasure 9000 at $5,400.

Under a January 1996 agreement that gave NTT ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY CORP. exclusive distribution rights to NORLAND PRODUCTS INC.'s complete line of noncontact and contact interferometric test equipment for analyzing fiber optics, the Tokyo company is marketing the New Brunswick, New Jersey firm's ACCIS NC-3005. Fully automated, the $53,900 noncontact system measures the microstructure and three dimensions of the surface topography of ribbon fiber-optic connectors.

This fall, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. will release the latest version of the HP Internet Advisor portable protocol analyzer for internetwork data communications testing. The new model brings greater speed and precision to network troubleshooting while extending testing capabilities from Ethernet/Fast Ethernet local and wide area networks to high-speed ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) and Gigabit Ethernet networks. Pricing will start at $28,400. Including models already on the market, HP Japan expects to sell 500 HP Internet Advisor network analyzers.

Three new color measurement instruments codeveloped by COLOR SAVVY SYSTEMS LTD. and TOPPAN PRINTING CO., LTD. are being marketed by the Japanese partner as part of its Color Stationery Series. The additions to the line, which has been available since April 1996, span a $695 spectrophotometer-type instrument suitable for color research and analysis, a colorimeter instrument, also priced at $695, that has wide application in graphics and interior design, and a calibrator intended for color quality control. The Springboro, Ohio manufacturer of products that assist in accurate color reproduction expects the decided affordability of the new instruments to generate sales of 20,000 units in their first year on the market.

An exchange rate of ¥141=$1.00 was used in this report.

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