Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 352, January 1999

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American Companies in Japan


By 2005, DOW CHEMICAL CO. hopes to supply between 8 percent and 10 percent of Japan's low-density polyethylene market, which is projected to be 2.2 million-plus tons that year. To reach this goal, the company plans to quadruple sales of high-performance linear LDPE, which provides superior durability among other desirable characteristics. Dow also will use its new Polyolefin Technical Center in Singapore and a similar facility in Japan to develop value-added polyethylene products for the Japanese market. Palo Alto, California's GENEASIA, INC. and Tokyo-based CMIC CO., LTD., Japan's largest provider of contract research organization services to the pharmaceutical industry, have set out to pioneer a new type of CRO business. In addition to traditional clinical testing services, it will provide contract research based on pharmacogenomics, GeneAsia's specialty. Pharmacogenomics uses genetics to better understand drug pharmacology. It is said to enhance the clinical assessment of drug profiles and also to ensure that new drug compounds have greater efficacy and lower toxicity. Diabetes, hypertension, arteriosclerosis and obesity are the initial disease targets of the pharmacogenomics studies offered by GeneAsia and CMIC.

Japanese rights to Arthrotec, a treatment for the pain and inflammation of arthritis commercialized by the G.D. SEARLE & CO. unit of MONSANTO CO., have been licensed to KAKEN PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. Financial terms were not disclosed. Kaken hopes to have the drug, which has been approved for sale in 50 countries, on the local market around 2004. Arthrotec belongs to the popular group of drugs for treating pain and inflammation known as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs).

Doctors now can tell in 10 minutes whether their patients have the flu. That breakthrough is the result of a diagnostic kit marketed by BECTON, DICKINSON AND CO.'s subsidiary, which uses an antigen-antibody reaction process to test a mucous membrane sample taken from the patient's nose or throat. A set of 20 kits has a suggested price of $425. Becton, Dickinson is forecasting that the kit will produce sales of $1.1 million in the first year.

MULTISORB TECHNOLOGIES, INC., the top North American producer of packaged sorbent products, including desiccants for absorbing moisture, is finding a bigger market in Japan through its three-year-old distribution arrangement with NIPPON KAKO-KIZAI CO., LTD. The Tokyo firm has found opportunities in the automotive industry for Multisorb's Saddleform desiccant bags, which keep the refrigerant gases in air-conditioning systems dry. Nippon Kako-Kizai also is marketing the Buffalo, New York manufacturer's Sorba-Ring desiccant bags, which are designed to filter impurities as well as to absorb moisture in AC systems; MiniPax sorbent packets for packaging applications; and DriCap cartridges, which absorb moisture in such products as pharmaceuticals, medical diagnostics and foods. With the improved market outlook, yearly sales of Multisorb products are forecast at $1.7 million.

An exchange rate of ¥117=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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