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No. 357, June 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


CHEMICALS

A second line has come onstream at the NOLTEX LLC ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer gas- barrier resin plant in La Porte, Texas. A joint venture between NIPPON SYNTHETIC CHEMICAL INDUSTRY CO., LTD. (75 percent) and MITSUBISHI CHEMICAL CORP. (25 percent), the company has made Soarnol-brand resin for food packaging applications since early 1996. It bought the idled EVOH facility in 1994 from E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS & CO., INC. and converted the first of the factory's two lines to Nippon Synthetic Chemical Industry's process and product technologies. The second line also has been retrofitted. With a total annual capacity of about 20,000 tons, Noltex now can make specialty Soarnol grades that have been imported from Japan.

NPA COATINGS INC. has lined up the TOYOTA MOTOR MANUFACTURING INDIANA, INC. truck plant in Princeton, Indiana (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 352, January 1999, p. 8) and part of the TOYOTA MOTOR MANUFACTURING KENTUCKY, INC. complex in Georgetown, Kentucky as customers for its acid-resistant top-coat automotive paint. The Cleveland-based manufacturer of powder coatings has supplied this product for certain GENERAL MOTORS CORP. vehicles since 1997. NPA Coatings believes that the Toyota contracts will add about $2.5 million to revenues in the first year. NIPPON PAINT CO., LTD. bought what became NPA Coatings in June 1991.

Although it is the world's top maker of printing inks and organic pigments, DAINIPPON INK AND CHEMICALS, INC. sees room to expand business in the United States by reorganizing its sales network. Fort Lee, New Jersey-headquartered DIC INTERNATIONAL (USA), INC., which has been in charge of marketing across the country, will open a branch in San Francisco to handle sales west of the Rocky Mountains. It then will concentrate on distribution east of the Rockies.

Continuing to divest assets that it acquired in 1990, ISHIHARA SANGYO KAISHA, LTD. has an agreement in principle to sell the RICERCA, INC. unit of its ISK AMERICA, INC. subsidiary to STERIS CORP. of Mentor, Ohio. Ricerca, which has more than 200 employees in Concord, Ohio, provides a variety of research, development and technology services to the pharmaceutical, animal health, agrochemical and specialty chemical industries. At the end of 1997, ISK sold the U.S. fungicide manufacturing operations of its ISK BIOSCIENCES CORP. affiliate.

In line with its current focus on making the blood supply in the United States and elsewhere as safe as possible (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 355, April 1999, p. 2), GEN-PROBE INC. opened a state-of-the-art reagents plant near its headquarters and primary manufacturing operations in San Diego, California. The 65 people employed at the new facility initially will produce about 40 million tests per year, although the factory has the annual capacity to turn out 100 million tests. The first assays will screen the blood supply for the hepatitis C virus and the human immunodeficiency virus. In time, assays for other viral targets will be added. Gen-Probe is a CHUGAI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. subsidiary.

With sales of Rezulin (troglitazone), SANKYO CO., LTD.'s treatment for Type II diabetes, expected to be hurt by new products from TAKEDA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES, LTD. and SMITHKLINE BEECHAM PLC (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 2), the big Japanese pharmaceutical company is working with WARNER-LAMBERT CO. on another drug that targets insulin resistance. Their development focus is R-119702, which contains an insulin resistance-boosting glitazone. The partners hope to start clinical trials in the United States by yearend and to have the drug cleared for marketing in three or four years. Warner- Lambert has U.S. sales rights to Rezulin.

Broadening a relationship established at the end of 1998 (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 352, January 1999, p. 2), KIRIN BREWERY CO., LTD. and DENDREON CORP. signed a research and licensing agreement for the development of dendritic cell-based cancer therapies. With funding from Kirin, the Seattle biotechnology company will explore immunotherapies for the types of cancers most prevalent in Asia and evaluate mechanisms for activating the relevant dendritic cells. The Japanese partner will have Asian rights to any products resulting from the collaboration, while Dendreon will receive U.S. rights.

An exchange rate of ¥122=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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