Interviews with pioneers@Tokyo CASE 07

CASE 07 "Advancing into Japan, which ranks among the world's top pharmaceutical markets"

Aspen Japan K.K. President & Representative Director
Mr. Philippe Auvaro

"Aspen" is the leading pharmaceutical company in the southern hemisphere, having offices in 49 countries and reaching more than 150 countries worldwide. Mr. Auvaro has dedicated to the pharmaceutical industry during his nearly 20 years of living in Tokyo, including about 10 years at GlaxoSmithKline K.K. (GSK) where he was an executive officer. When these two companies decided to launch a new initiative in Japan, Mr. Auvaro was appointed as president of Aspen Japan.

"Advancing into Japan, which ranks among the world's top pharmaceutical markets"

Aspen is a pharmaceutical company, with a focus on prescription drugs including generic medicines. The Aspen group, as a whole, is the fifth largest manufacturer of generic drugs with branded and OTC products as well as consumer health and nutritional products. Aspen Japan is planning to focus on prescription medicines.

Japan's pharmaceutical market is huge, No.2 in the world which is very attractive for pharmaceutical companies. Aspen is a very imaginative and fast-moving company. It started in South Africa and quickly expanded globally. Today it operates in 49 countries and provide products to more than 150 countries worldwide. So far, Aspen has been providing products indirectly to Japan through GlaxoSmithKline (aka GSK), one of the world's largest pharmaceutical manufacturers and a significant shareholder of Aspen. However, Aspen has always been considering having its own operation in Japan and carefully studied feasibility of market entry, regulations, form of entry, etc.

Pharmaceutical business is subject to regulations particular to each country, based on its history and culture, so it was essential to obtain knowledge of regulations specific to Japan. It was exactly when Aspen was moving towards establishing an operation in Japan, that Aspen came across a program to support its Japan office establishment. This support program is provided by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) for international companies entering the Special Zone for Asian Headquarters. It was a timely proposal of support from the TMG to Aspen.

The consulting company commissioned by the TMG to implement this support program for international companies provided precise and detailed consulting support including regulatory approval procedure and operations such as recruiting, as well as research on various topics which are the keys for Aspen's successful entry into the Japanese market and providing suggestions. Without TMG's assistance, things could not have proceeded so efficiently. Mr. Auvaro highly appreciates this program. In his terms, "Aspen was very fortunate."

Aspen decided to establish Aspen Japan K.K. a prescription medicine company, in 2014, in collaboration with its long-time business partner, GSK.

Mr. Auvaro analyzed the attractiveness of Tokyo and Japan in two different aspects. First, for "business environment," Japan is a huge pharmaceutical market, second in the world, for prescription medicines, which means that Japanese market is highly important for pharmaceutical companies. Mr. Auvaro added that Tokyo is special among the global cities because both authorities (regulatory bodies) and headquarters of pharmaceutical companies with potential for partnership with Aspen are heavily concentrated here. This is a suitable environment for operating in line with regulations and expanding business through collaboration with partners.

Second, for "living environment," having lived for nearly 20 years in the central part of Tokyo, Mr. Auvaro finds it not only safe, comfortable and convenient for living, shopping, commuting and traveling but also getting increasingly cosmopolitan. His family members enjoy living in Tokyo too.

Mr. Auvaro plans to establish a solid organization in compliance with the Japanese laws and regulations. Aspen Japan will develop portfolio of products, mainly focusing on prescription medicines including generic drugs. It will be able to make a quick start through cooperative measures from GSK and other partners. For the long-term future, Mr. Auvaro's "dream" is development of Aspen's own new drugs, towards which he plans to grow business steadily.Let's keep a close eye on "new breeze" this "imaginative and fast-moving" company will bring into Japan's pharmaceutical industry.

*Source: EvaluatePharma® "Worldwide Unbranded Generic Drug Sales in 2013: Top 20 Companies"

(Murakoshi Akio)

Interviews with pioneers@Tokyo

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