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No. 357, June 1999

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American Companies in Japan


Having decided that their corporate interests would be better served in Japan if they went their separate ways, HERCULES INC. and NEW JAPAN CHEMICAL CO., LTD. have agreed to dissolve RIKA HERCULES CO., LTD. at the end of June. Formed in 1980, Rika Hercules has made rosin derivatives at the Japanese parent's plant in Tokushima prefecture for sale to the adhesives, ink and paint industries in Japan and Southeast Asia. It had revenues of $20.8 million in the year through November 1998. New Japan Chemical will become the sole owner of the Tokushima facility. Hercules, a Wilmington, Delaware-headquartered manufacturer of chemical specialties, subsequently announced a reorganization of its Japanese operations. Its 20-year- old Tokyo subsidiary selected NISSHO IWAI CORP. as the exclusive distributor effective July 1 of the company's hydrocarbon resins, rosin derivatives, peroxy chemicals and terpene specialties to adhesives, ink and paint manufacturers in Japan and Southeast Asia.

DOW CORNING TORAY SILICONE CO., LTD. hopes that a silicone elastomer powder suspension that it developed will turn into a $16.4 million annual business after three years. The water-based suspension, in which fine particles of silicone spherical elastomer powder are dispersed, can be used in a variety of formulations where dry powder would be hard to disperse. It has good temperature and abrasion resistance as well as good damping absorption and stress relaxation. The partnership between DOW CORNING CORP. and TORAY INDUSTRIES, INC. notes in particular that the material yields a matted surface in painting applications.

For its part, SUMITOMO 3M LTD. is projecting first-year sales of $2.5 million for a high heat- dissipation silicone rubber that it developed. The 3M Scotch Hyper Soft Plus Thermal Conductive Material 5507 and 5507S, which differ in width, is just as pliable as conventional rubber but can conduct twice the amount of heat. Those characteristics make the products ideal for insulating microprocessors and system chips.

VIVUS, INC., the developer and manufacturer of MUSE (alprostadil), has named BIO-MEDIC INSTITUTE, INC. to commercialize and gain regulatory approval for its treatment of impotence. BMI, which provides new drug planning and development services to Japanese pharmaceutical companies, will make a $5 million up-front payment to the Mountain View, California company. Once the Ministry of Health and Welfare clears MUSE for marketing, Vivus will manufacture the drug and sell it to its partner, which is negotiating with an unnamed domestic pharmaceutical company to market the treatment.

On behalf of Research Triangle Park, North Carolina-based MEDCO RESEARCH, INC., Japan development and marketing partner SUNTORY LTD. filed a new drug application with MHW for adenosine. The specific indication is as a coronary vasodilator for use with myocardial perfusion imaging in patients who are unable to adequately exercise. No products currently have MHW clearance for use as a pharmacologic stressor in nuclear cardiac imaging despite the growing prevalence of this procedure. Adenosine will be sold under the Adenoscan name, which is how it is marketed in the United States by FUJISAWA HEALTHCARE, INC. and in Europe.

The University of Tokyo will evaluate AVAX TECHNOLOGIES, INC.'s AC Vaccine as a treatment for breast cancer. As part of the arrangement, the Kansas City, Missouri company will share its technology with the university so that it can produce the vaccine for a clinical trial. AC Vaccine is made from a patient's own cancer cells by modifying them with a molecule called a hapten. This process alters the tumor cells and makes them appear foreign to the patient's immune system. When the hapten-modified cells are reinjected in the patient, they stimulate the immune system to recognize the cancer cells and destroy them. AVAX is testing the vaccine in the United States as a treatment for malignant melanoma and for ovarian cancer.

Japan is the top country in the world for direct sales. That makes it an obvious expansion target for REXALL SHOWCASE INTERNATIONAL, INC., which markets health and nutrition products through networks of independent distributors. The Boca Raton, Florida company has opened a subsidiary in Tokyo and established a Rexall Academy to educate distributors about nutrition, preventative health care and the benefits of Rexall's products. RSI's parent, REXALL SUNDOWN, INC., recently signed ROHTO PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. to market an exclusive line of vitamins and other nutritional supplements (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 355, April 1999, p. 13).

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

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