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No. 362, November 1999

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American Companies in Japan


PRECISION AND MEDICAL EQUIPMENT

Dioxin emissions, a by-product of combustion and certain industrial processes, are a major environmental hazard in Japan. W.L. GORE & ASSOCIATES, INC. consequently expects to find a ready market among operators of municipal waste incinerators, hazardous waste incinerators and similar facilities for its new REMEDIA D/F catalytic filter system. This easy-to-install, relatively inexpensive system combines surface filtration and catalysis technologies to destroy dioxins -- not just remove them from the gas stream into the solid waste stream, as happens with the alternative sorbent-injection technology. REMEDIA is being marketed by JAPAN GORE-TEX, INC., a 25-year-old Tokyo joint venture between the Newark, Delaware-headquartered company and JUNKOSHA CO., LTD., in cooperation with ABB ALSTROM POWER K.K. of Kobe. The partners hope to sell 30 REMEDIA systems over the next three years. Japan Gore-Tex, which employs some 400 people, is engaged in the development, production and sale of Gore-Tex products in the industrial, fabrics and medical fields. It has a production and technical center as well as a polymer science center in Okayama prefecture.

Incidents of food poisoning and in-hospital infection also are on the rise in Japan, expanding the market for equipment that can identify and track the source of bacterial contamination. That is what QUALICON, INC.'s RiboPrinter Microbial Characterization System does. The wholly owned E.I. DUPONT DE NEMOURS & CO., INC. subsidiary bills its product as the only automated instrument for fingerprinting the DNA of bacteria. That process makes the RiboPrinter far more accurate than machines that use antigen-antibody reactions to identify bacteria. Qualicon has made TAKARA SHUZO CO., LTD., a big supplier to the biotechnology industry through its biomedical group, the sole distributor of the $198,100 RiboPrinter. Sales could reach 30 systems a year, according to Takara Shuzo's estimates.

In a deal key to its sales goals in Japan (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 354, March 1999, p. 21), the subsidiary of FISHER CONTROLS INTERNATIONAL, INC. has delivered a DeltaV scalable process control system with a Japanese-language interface to COCA-COLA HOLDINGS WEST JAPAN CO., LTD. That company, formed this past summer (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 353, February 1999, p. 18), is using the all-in-one package to improve efficiency at its Saga prefecture bottling plant.

MVE, INC., the world's top designer and manufacturer of vacuum-insulated solutions for the storage and the distribution of cryogenic gases, introduced a line of portable liquid nitrogen cylinders through DAIHO SANGYO CO., LTD. The product is based on the Burnsville, Minnesota company's Dura-Cyl portable cryogenic liquid containers. These are known for their long holding time, low evaporation rate and high gas withdrawal rate. Daiho Sangyo, the dominant supplier of ultralow-temperature cylinders in Japan, is eyeing sales of 2,400 or so MVE cylinders a year.

A third Japanese manufacturer of thin-film heads for high-density data-storage applications has bought a Versalock plasma processing system from PLASMA-THERM, INC. The St. Petersburg, Florida company's inductively coupled plasma technology delivers the advanced etching capability necessary for the development of a new generation of giant magnetoresistive thin-film heads. Over the next year, Plasma-Therm believes that it will add at least one more Japanese supplier as a customer.

After serving Japanese health-care facilities from its headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for many years, MERGE TECHNOLOGIES INC. opened a wholly owned subsidiary in Tokyo. Its products integrate the data generated by medical devices into standard medical data communications formats, including DICOM and HL-7, pro-vide clinical work-flow integration and produce multimedia electronic reports for distribution in a health-care enterprise information network.

SOMNUS MEDICAL TECHNOLOGIES, INC. gave MITSUBISHI CORP. subsidiary MC MEDICAL, INC. exclusive rights to distribute the Somnoplasty System for the management of upper airway disorders. The Sunnyvale, California company expects MHW approval of its system sometime in 2000 for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea, chronic nasal obstruction and habitual snoring. The suite of products uses radio- frequency technology to reduce excess tissue in the upper airway in a minimally invasive procedure. MC Medical will handle not only sales and marketing but also physician training and customer service.

Hydroview, BAUSCH & LOMB INC.'s new foldable intraocular lens for use in cataract surgery, has been approved for sale. The Rochester, New York company believes that this product, distinguished by its high level of biocompatibility and ease of use, will double its share of Japan's IOL market in 2000. WYETH LEDERLE JAPAN LTD. is the exclusive distributor of Bausch & Lomb's cataract products. Its Hansatome microkeratome, the instrument used in most refractive surgery procedures worldwide, also recently received regulatory clearance. With refractive surgery still in its infancy in Japan, Bausch & Lomb expects strong growth for this product as well.

REICHERT OPHTHALMIC INSTRUMENTS named KONAN MEDICAL, INC. of Hyogo prefecture the sole distributor of its KR450 Auto Keratometer/Refractor and AR350 Auto Refractor. The Buffalo, New York manufacturer touts the ease of use of these ergonomically designed instruments. They simplify positioning of the patient by automatically aligning with his or her eyes. Moreover, accurate measurements occur with just the push of a button. Konan Medical priced the KR450 at $24,500 and the AR350 at $14,200. Reichert Ophthalmic is a LEICA MICROSYSTEMS INC. company.

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