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No. 354, March 1999

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American Companies in Japan


At a cost of $16.2 million, ABBOTT LABORATORIES bought more of partner DAINIPPON PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD.'s share in DAINABOT CO., LTD. The transaction, which cut the midsized Japanese drug company's stake in the Osaka-based importer and marketer of Abbott products to 21 percent from 24 percent, was in line with an early 1996 agreement. Under this arrangement, Dainippon Pharmaceutical will sell what was its 30 percent interest in Dainabot to the American company by March 2005. During that 10-year period, however, the Japanese firm will continue to supply drugs to the joint venture.

It took seven years, but the Ministry of Health and Welfare finally has given TAISHO PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. the go-ahead to produce minoxidil, the PHARMACIA & UPJOHN, INC. product that both promotes the growth of new hair and prevents the loss of existing hair. The American half of Pharmacia & Upjohn licensed the Japanese company in 1985 to make and market what is called Rogaine in the United States. Taisho Pharmaceutical will begin to market minoxidil in June under the name of Re-up. A 60-milliliter bottle will cost about $47.

For its part, the local operation of PHARMACIA & UPJOHN, INC. hopes during 1999 to win MHW marketing approval for three products. One is Xalatan (latanoprost ophthalmic solution), a glaucoma treatment for patients who are intolerant of or insufficiently responsive to other medications designed to lower the intraocular pressure in the eye. The Bridgewater, New Jersey drug manufacturer sees Xalatan, which belongs to the class of compounds known as prostaglandins, developing into at least an $85.5 million annual business in Japan. Pharmacia & Upjohn also is seeking marketing clearance for Cabasee, a treatment for Parkinson's disease that it developed with KISSEI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD., and for a drug for migraine headaches that was codeveloped with KANEBO, LTD.

AGENNIX INC. has given SANTEN PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. the right to develop its recombinant human lactoferrin for the treatment of dry-eye disease, a common cause of eye irritation and impaired vision. The world's third-largest supplier of prescription eye medications, Santen also will have exclusive international sales rights to the ophthalmic. The Houston- based biotechnology company will receive a development payment of up to $5.9 million, plus royalties on net sales. Human lactoferrin is an anti- inflammatory and immunodulatory protein, with applications for the treatment of inflammatory and infectious diseases. Agennix is pursuing gastrointestinal and dermatological applications of human lactoferrin.

Under a five-year, nonexclusive agreement, MITO-KOR CORP. licensed SRL, INC., Japan's largest clinical testing laboratory, to use its Mito-Load assay and software for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease and for selecting candidates for human clinical trials. The San Diego, California biotechnology company's Mito-Load assay is a blood-based, in vitro, nucleic acid test that measures alternations in mitrochondrial DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). Mitochondrial dysfunction has been implicated in Alzheimer's. In exchange for the license, Tokyo-headquartered SRL will make an up-front payment to MitoKor and also pay royalties on a per-test basis.

The subsidiary of one of the world's largest clinical diagnostics companies, Deerfield, Illinois-based DADE BEHRING INC., has contracted with ORIENTAL YEAST CO., LTD. to manufacture seven inputs for reagents used in an immunochemistry test that provides various measurements of protein in blood serum. The supply will start in April. Oriental Yeast, which is trying to build up its biochemistry business, spent $427,400 on equipment to fill the Dade Behring contract.

LJL BIOSYSTEMS, INC. gave SUMITOMO CORP. exclusive rights to distribute its drug discovery products to Japanese pharmaceutical houses. The Sunnyvale, California company says that its Analyst platform addresses many of the problems associated with other drug discovery technologies, thereby enabling users to accelerate the identification and the optimization of compounds for development into new medicines.

CLONTECH LABORATORIES, INC. has strengthened its local marketing presence through personnel appointments and the relocation within Tokyo of the offices and distribution center of its wholly owned subsidiary. The Palo Alto, California company produces biological systems, kits and support tools designed for drug discovery, cancer research, neurobiology, pharmacology, cell biology, genomics and functional genomics.

Against the backdrop of tightening government restrictions on the output of dioxin from Japan's nearly 2,000 municipal waste incinerators, PARACELSIAN INC. has given an unnamed conglomerate that builds municipal waste incineration facilities among other businesses the right to commercialize its test for dioxin. The Ithaca, New York biotechnology company claims that its Ah Immunoassay provides a quick, easy and accurate way to measure dioxin production. Perhaps more important, the Paracelsian test is said to cost far less than the gas chromatograph/mass spectrometry method traditionally used to measure the highly toxic contaminant.

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

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