Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 350, November 1998

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American Companies in Japan


Two American manufacturers of animal health-care products have set their sights on Japan, second only to the United States as a market for veterinary drugs. HESKA CORP. gave NOVARTIS ANIMAL HEALTH, INC. exclusive rights to distribute through affiliate NOVARTIS AGRO K.K. certain of the company's products. These initially include the Fort Collins, Colorado firm's feline and canine heartworm in-clinic diagnostic tests, periodontal disease therapeutic and feline viral vaccines. Marketing will start once regulatory approval is received. In exchange for the distribution rights, Novartis Animal Health gave Heska a right of first refusal to evaluate for possible development and marketing worldwide certain new product technologies for the veterinary market as they become available.

SYNBIOTICS CORP. also has a strong marketing partner for its already-approved-for- sale Witness line of point-of-care tests for heartworm in dogs and leukemia virus in cats: MERIAL NIPPON ZENYAKU KOGYO CO., LTD. That company is a joint venture between NIPPON ZENYAKU KOGYO CO., LTD., Japan's biggest veterinary animal health company, and the world's largest animal health-care supplier, London's MERIAL LTD., itself an equal partnership between Synbiotics and MERCK & CO., INC. San Diego, California-based Synbiotics also is working directly with NZK to register and market additional products. Another of its agents in Japan, DAIICHI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD., is preparing to register for sale six dog and cat vaccines and two diagnostic test kits under a January 1996 distribution agreement.

In a fundamental change in their relationship, NOVON INTERNATIONAL, INC. has given its 18-month-old Tokyo subsidiary sole responsibility for producing Degra- NOVON, which makes plastics biodegradable, for the world market outside of China. Degra-NOVON is a combination of polymers, starch, chemicals and catalyst systems. Plastics incorporating it begin to degrade when the starch granules in the polymer are attacked by microorganisms. Degradation also is accelerated by the formation of peroxides. Since April, NOVON JAPAN, INC. has been making Degra-NOVON at the rate of 30 tons a month at a factory in the eastern part of Japan. In December, it will open a 100-ton-a-month plant in the western area of the country, although initially that facility will produce about 30 tons of Degra-NOVON a month. Tonawanda, New York- headquartered Novon International, which manufactures other products, will function as the R&D center for Degra-NOVON and as the international sales base.

Two reflective display films developed by MINNESOTA MINING & MANUFACTURING CO.'s Optical Systems division are on the market through SUMITOMO 3M LTD. The films, which improve the readability and the style of reflective-mode LCDs, incorporate 3M's proprietary reflective polarizer and diffuse adhesive technologies. They allow the replacement of the bottom polorizer assembly used in conventional displays. Product applications for the black reflective display film include calculators, instrumentation and appliances. The clear version can be used in handheld PCs, cellular phones, pagers and watches and clocks. Sumitomo 3M believes that sales of the two films could reach $24.8 million in their initial year of availability.

An exchange rate of ¥121=$1.00 was used in this report.

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