Friday, June 16, 2006

Pharmaceuticals in Japan

A blurb in the Daily Yomiuri this morning led me to a report by the Office of Pharmaceutical Industry Research that says that 28 of the top 88 best-selling drugs in the world are not currently available in Japan.

The report is in Japanese, and there's a lot of specialized vocabulary I don't grok at a glance, but if I'm reading it right, Japan lags an average of 2.5 years behind the U.S. in approving drugs, with an average of 1,400 days to approval, compared to 500 for the U.S. (I have absolutely no idea what starts the clock on that approval, and I consider it quite possible that a difference in bureaucratic procedures means the reality is either better or worse.) Okay, wait, if I read this right, that's time from approval in the drug's home country to approval in the local country. That is, a European drug would appear on the U.S. market 500 days after appearing in Europe, and it would appear 1,400 days later in Japan than in Europe.

Of the top 95 drugs worldwide, 38 originated in the U.S., 14 in the U.K., 13 in Japan, 12 in Switzerland, 5 in France, 3 each in Germany, Sweden, and Denmark, and 1 each in Belgium, Israel, and Croatia.

In an unrelated article in the paper, a survey found that 35% of obstetrics departments in Japan have actually stopped delivering babies. More than a third of obstetricians are aged 60 or older, which is nominally retirement age here.

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