June 22, 2024

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Japan Aims for Domestic Antibiotics Production to Enhance Surgical Security

Japan Aims for Domestic Antibiotics Production to Enhance Surgical Security

Japan Aims for Domestic Antibiotics Production to Enhance Surgical Security

The essential antibiotics required for surgeries will be domestically produced for the first time in 30 years. 

For the first time in about 30 years, domestic pharmaceutical companies will commence the production of the active ingredients for antibiotics, essential for surgeries and designated as critical materials under the Economic Security Promotion Law.

This summer, the government decided to subsidize the manufacturing equipment for two corporate groups, targeting production to start by 2024 and achieve self-sufficiency by 2030.

Japan Aims for Domestic Antibiotics Production to Enhance Surgical Security

 In the 1990s, the manufacturing technology for active pharmaceutical ingredients shifted to China.

Economic Security: “Specific Important Materials”

Antibiotics are medications that kill or inhibit bacterial growth, crucial during surgeries to prevent the risk of bacterial infection in organs, which could be life-threatening. Thus, administering antibiotics through intravenous drips or injections is indispensable.

The active ingredients of antibiotics are synthesized chemically from raw materials produced by specific fungal fermentation. Domestic companies used to manufacture these active ingredients before the 1990s, but as drug prices decreased, they shifted their technology to China due to lower manufacturing costs. Currently, nearly 100% of raw materials for antibiotics like penicillin are imported from China.

In 2019, difficulties arose in obtaining antibiotics for Japanese medical institutions due to factors like factory shutdowns in China, leading to significant impacts such as surgery postponements.

Following the law enacted in May 2022, designating antibiotics as critical materials, the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare secured a budget of about 55 billion yen. A fund was established to support the installation costs of fermenters and purification equipment required for producing active ingredients for antibiotics like penicillin. In July of this year, two corporate groups, centered around Meiji Seika Pharma (Tokyo), a subsidiary of Sankyo Kasei Industry Co., Ltd., and Sankyo Pharma (Osaka), were selected as recipients of this support.

Ensuring the availability of active pharmaceutical ingredients overseas is also a concern. The Biden administration in the United States views dependence on Chinese drugs as an issue and has outlined a list of 86 urgently needed drugs in the medical field, including antibiotics. Besides promoting the domestic production of active ingredients, they plan to procure from allied countries like Japan.

A senior official from the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare stated, “We must avoid situations where lives cannot be saved,” expressing the hope to restore the diminishing domestic production capacity of critical active pharmaceutical ingredients.

Professor Mamoru Narikawa, a pharmaceutical development professor at Kitasato University, remarked, “Support for production equipment is crucial to ensure the availability of active pharmaceutical ingredients, but if companies cannot ensure profit, production will halt again. We need to consider explicit methods and mechanisms for fixed pricing transactions.”

Economic Security Promotion Law: It’s a law that strengthens the infrastructure of vital industries and nurtures cutting-edge technology. Relevant ministries and agencies will formulate policies to ensure stable supply of “specific important materials,” necessary for people’s survival and excessively reliant on foreign sources, providing financial support to certified enterprises. Eleven substances have been designated, including antibiotics and semiconductors.

Japan Aims for Domestic Antibiotics Production to Enhance Surgical Security

(source:internet, reference only)

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