The Japanese pharmaceutical market is the world`s second largest with sales of over £65 billion in 2009.
Biotechnology and Pharmaceuticals sector in Japan
The Japanese pharmaceutical market is the world`s second largest with sales of over £65 billion
in 2009; up 5.8% from 2008. At 11% of the global market, it is bigger than France and Germany
Japan has a number of research based pharmaceutical companies that are operating on a global
basis including Takeda, Astellas, Daiichi Sankyo, Eisai, Otsuka, Mitsubishi Tanabe, Chugai,
Shionogi, Kyowa Hakko Kirin, Dainippon Sumitomo. These companies are actively looking for
collaboration opportunities with new and innovative pharmaceutical companies. The market for
biologics such as antibodies, protein based drugs and vaccine, has been increasing and
companies including Chugai, Kyowa Hakko Kirin, Takeda, Mitsubishi Tanabe are some of the
key players in this market.
The market share of foreign pharmaceutical companies is growing and is estimated to be 30-40%
in recent years. The UK had been the largest exporter of pharmaceuticals to Japan until 2008, but
was replaced by Switzerland in 2009 due to the sharp increase of imports of swine flu related
products. In 2009, Japan imported £2.5 billion worth of drugs from the UK, which accounted for
15.4% of the total amount of Japanese pharmaceuticals imports.
Domestic drug production is worth ¥6.8 trillion (approximately £50.5 billion), of which
prescription drugs account for 90% of production, while over-the-counter (OTC) drugs account
for the remaining 10%.
Japan has one of the world’s fastest ageing populations. As a consequence, its population is
facing an increasing number of chronic and long-term diseases.
ξ Demand for joint development, outsourcing of R&D, clinical trials and regulatory affairs
in Europe continues to increase.
ξ In view of patent expiration of blockbuster drugs and pressures from generics, most
opportunities will be in out-licensing of drugs especially for age-related, non-
communicable diseases including cancer, cardiovascular and CNS.
ξ Increasing development of antibody drugs by Japanese pharmaceutical companies.
ξ DDS (both original and generics manufacturers).
ξ Bio-marker development.
ξ Services to help faster drug development.
Diagnostic companies are also looking for products or unique technologies that can improve
diagnostic/detection processes and for the development of companion bio-markers. Diagnostic
companies are looking to expand overseas to off-set the sales in a saturated market. Business
opportunities with diagnostic companies result in potential wider market opportunities.
Latest export opportunities – Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals
Latest export opportunities – Japan
Getting into the market
Direct collaboration opportunities with large Japanese pharmaceutical companies who operate
globally would be the best way to get into the market, along with collaborating with medium
sized and generic Japanese pharmaceutical companies.
Globally operating Japanese pharmaceutical companies are also looking at expanding into
emerging markets including China and India. Collaboration with Japanese pharmaceutical
companies could also provide access to these emerging markets.
Japanese companies place strong emphasis on developing the trust and mutual confidence that
will lead to a strong and enduring relationship.
More about doing business in Japan
Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke
market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market
Introduction Service (OMIS).
To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists
in country - or contact your local international trade team.
ξ Kaori Arai, British Embassy Tokyo. Tel: +81 (0)3 5211 1150 or email:
ξ Hitomi Nakai, British Consulate-General Osaka. Tel: +81 (0)6 6120 5656 or email:
Contact your local international trade team
UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to
overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.
BIO tech 2012
Dates: 25-27 April 2012
Venue: Tokyo Big Sight
Website address: http://www.bio-t.jp/en/About-BIO/About-BIO/
Dates: 27-29 June 2012
Venue: Tokyo Big Sight
Website address: http://www.interphex.jp/en/Home/
Bio Japan 2012
Dates: 10-12 October 2012
Venue: Pacifico Yokohama
Website address: http://www.ics-expo.jp/biojapan/en/index.html
Latest events – Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals
More about OMIS and other UKTI services for exporters