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No. 359, August 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


Work should start within the next few months on SHIN-ETSU CHEMICAL CO., LTD.'s $250 million or so polyvinyl chloride plant in Addis, Louisiana, near Baton Rouge (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 349, October 1998, p. 2). The world's top manufacturer of PVC intends to complete plant construction as soon as possible but no later than the fall of 2001 to meet the steady increase in American demand for the versatile plastic. The Louisiana factory, which will source PVC building blocks from a nearby DOW CHEMICAL CO. facility rather than make them itself, will have an annual production capacity of 1.3 billion pounds. It will be operated by SHINTECH INC., Shin- Etsu Chemical's 25-year-old manufacturing unit in Freeport, Texas. PVC production capacity there is 3.2 billion pounds a year.

TEIJIN LTD. and E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS & CO., INC. finalized a pending deal to combine their global polyester film operations effective October 1 (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 2). Seven joint ventures will be formed under the control of what the partners are calling a Global Policy Board. They will employ roughly 4,000 people and have a combined annual production capacity of as much as 375,000 tons, tops in the world. Wilmington, Delaware-head-quartered DUPONT TEIJIN FILMS U.S. LP, in which Teijin and DuPont each will have a 49.9 percent interest, will take over the American multinational's polyester film manufacturing and marketing business in the United States as well as an existing Teijin-DuPont polyester film venture. TEIJIN DUPONT FILMS JAPAN LTD. will be responsible for the Japan side of the tie-up. Teijin will own 50.1 percent of this Tokyo- based company. The other joint ventures will be established in Scotland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Indonesia and the People's Republic of China. The European operations will be equally owned. Teijin will be the majority owner of the Indonesia company, while the reverse will be true for the Chinese firm.

For TORAY INDUSTRIES, INC., which ranks second only to E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS & CO., INC. as a world manufacturer of polyester film, engineering plastics represent a U.S. growth market because of expanded onshore production by automotive makers and other Japanese customers. It hopes to double sales of these products to $30 million in FY 2002. The first step toward this goal is making MONTOR PERFORMANCE PLASTIC CO. a wholly owned marketing unit. This Troy, Michigan company, formed in 1989, was set up on an equal basis by Toray and what became SOLUTIA INC. As TORAY RESIN CO., it will handle such engineering plastics as nylon (which Solutia will continue to supply) and ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene), targeting sales at American automotive makers as well as continuing to cultivate business among Japanese manufacturers operating in the United States.

Although toner resin and ink-jet materials manufacturer and marketer POLYTRIBO INC. is profitable, partners FUJIKURA KASEI CO., LTD. (40 percent) and ROHM & HAAS CO. (60 percent) decided to transform the Bristol, Pennsylvania company into a toner resin marketing outfit wholly owned by the Japanese parent. Formed in 1985, Polytribo began to make toner resins in 1988 at Rohm & Haas' Bristol plant. In 1996, it entered the ink-jet materials business, supplying pigment dispersions for use in pigmented ink-jet inks. As part of the restructuring, Rohm & Haas, a Philadelphia- based specialty chemical company, acquired the ink-jet materials business. It will continue to make toner resins for marketing by Polytribo to Japanese-affiliated companies in the United States manufacturing copier toner.

Silicone rubber manufacturer ASAHI RUBBER INC. and ESSEX SPECIALTY PRODUCTS, INC., which is strong in adhesives and sealants, are collaborating on automotive-use sealants. At the start, they will exchange product and process technologies for sealant materials, moving on later to final products. The globalization of the automotive industry is behind the tie-up. Asahi Rubber recently formed a U.S. subsidiary to market color silicone rubber caps to vehicle makers (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 357, June 1999, p. 12). Auburn Hills, Michigan Essex is a DOW CHEMICAL CO. subsidiary.

To accelerate its drug discovery efforts, DAIICHI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. contracted with AXYS PHARMACEUTICALS, INC. to obtain a diverse compound screening library consisting of small molecule compounds created through the South San Francisco, California company's combinatorial chemistry technologies. The three- year deal calls for payments to Axys in excess of $10 million.

An eighth Japanese drug company will tap the expertise of PROTEIN DESIGN LABS, INC. Under a research agreement with FUJISAWA PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD., which is seeking a new approach to the treatment of certain diseases in the inflammatory and immunological fields, the Fremont, California firm will engineer humanized antibodies targeted at these problems.

The Food and Drug Administration approved for marketing a third drug to help people with adult-onset or Type II diabetes use more effectively the insulin their body produces. ACTOS (pioglitazone hydrochloride) was commercialized by TAKEDA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES, LTD. It will be marketed by the big drug company's New York City subsidiary and ELI LILLY AND CO. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 356, May 1999, p. 2). People prescribed ACTOS only will have to take it once a day. Moreover, they can take it at any time, with or without food. In another plus for the drug, it can be used in combination with three other diabetes-fighters as well as alone. Analysts expect ACTOS to be a big seller for Takeda Chemical.

TAKEDA CHEMICAL INDUSTRIES, LTD. also could have a Viagra-type blockbuster on the U.S. market sometime in 2000. TAP PHARMACEUTICALS INC., the company's long-standing joint venture with ABBOTT LABORATORIES, filed a new drug application with the FDA for UPRIMA (apomorphine HCI) for the treatment of male erectile dysfunction. The drug affects the central nervous system in the brain to provide sexual stimulation.

Clinical trials of two EISAI CO., LTD. compounds have started in the United States. E5564, discovered and synthesized by EISAI RESEARCH INSTITUTE in Andover, Massachusetts, is a Lipid A antagonist that is being investigated as a potential treatment for sepsis and septic shock. No effective drug therapy currently exists for sepsis, a toxic condition resulting from the spread of bacteria from an infection site. E1010, a product of Eisai's research laboratories in Japan, is a carbapenem antibiotic.

In a first for BANYU PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD., three drug candidates developed in-house are undergoing clinical testing in the United States. The pharmaceutical firm tied up with a contract research organization to conduct human trials on J-107088, an indolo-carbazole antitumor drug being investigated as a cancer treatment. On the other two candidates — J-104132, an endothelin receptor antagonist thought to be effective for hypertension, and J-104135, a muscarine M3 receptor antagonist — Banyu is working with its majority stockholder, MERCK & CO., INC. If the efficacy of any of these possible therapies is verified during the clinical testing process, which is at the Phase I or the Phase II point, the American drug powerhouse would handle international marketing, paying royalties to Banyu.

Like Japan's top pharmaceutical manufacturers, second-tier drug companies have set their sights on the American market. The attraction is not just the sales potential of clinically successful products but an approval process that is relatively faster than Japan's. Any number of recent examples highlight this reality. For instance, SUNTORY LTD., which has been in the drug business for two decades, formed a subsidiary to oversee clinical testing of two compounds, one for cerebral-vascular disease and the other for immunodeficiency problems, for both the American and the Japanese markets. SUNTORY PHARMACEUTICAL, INC., which likely will set up operations in New York City or northern New Jersey, hopes to win FDA marketing approval for these drug candidates in 2004. The big whiskey manufacturer also has identified other products in its development pipeline that it wants to submit for U.S. clinical testing.

Like the whiskey maker, AJINOMOTO CO., INC. has identified pharmaceuticals as a strategic business and hopes the regulatory process and sales potential of the United States will help it achieve this diversification. Recently established AJINOMOTO PHARMACEUTICALS USA, INC. of Hackensack, New Jersey will oversee Phase II/III/IV clinical testing of AT-1015, a prospective antithrombosis drug, starting within this year. It also will handle licensing of Japan-discovered compounds. On Ajinomoto's U.S. agenda as well is the marketing of Fastic before the end of 2000. This diabetes medication is targeted at people with fairly mild symptoms. It is designed to curb rises in blood-sugar levels following meals.

Signaling its new emphasis on the American market, NIPPON SHINYAKU CO., LTD. transformed its New York City liaison office, opened in October 1997, into a subsidiary. NS PHARMA, INC.'s mandate is to strengthen the drug maker's U.S.-based clinical development system and to explore business development opportunities. Nippon Shinyaku is strong in urological drugs.

Before the end of 2001, YOSHITOMI PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRIES, LTD. hopes to have in hand FDA approval to market what the midsize drug company calls its first world-class product. Circulase (AS-013 in lipid emulsion), developed by Los Angeles subsidiary ALPHA THERAPEUTIC CORP., is being studied for the prevention of limb amputation in patients with severe ischemia, a problem caused by the obstruction of the inflow of arterial blood. Phase II/III trials are underway. Yoshitomi Pharmaceutical also hopes to launch in the United States in coming years two products that are under development in its own laboratories.

GEN-PROBE INC. — a CHUGAI PHARMACEUTICAL CO., LTD. subsidiary well-known for its genetic probe-based diagnostic products — received nonexclusive worldwide rights to apply AMBION, INC.'s Armored RNA (ribonucleic acid) technology to products and processes for human clinical diagnostic uses. A major application for the Austin, Texas company's know-how is the production of viral assays of RNA controls and standards that withstand exposure to ribonucleases and long-term storage in serum or plasma. San Diego, California Gen-Probe is developing viral nucleic acid tests for screening the blood supply for HIV-1 and 2 and hepatitis B and C viruses (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 357, June 1999, p. 2).

Can the consumption of oolong tea help to control obesity? A transpacific team is researching the effects of oolong tea on energy metabolism. The first-of-its-kind project joins SUNTORY LTD.'s Basic Research Institute and Tokushima University with the Department of Agriculture's Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland. Investigators in Japan already had conducted research on oolong tea's ability to boost energy metabolism, but their work required more precise measurement capabilities than were available in that country. Those will be provided by BHNRC, one of six human nutrition research centers run by USDA and, more importantly, equipped with state-of-the-art research instruments, including one of the few human calorimeters in the United States.

An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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