For a better understanding of Sumitomo Corporation Group's business activities, the Corporate Communications Department of Sumitomo Corporation offers site tours for media representatives and this time, a tour visiting the pharmaceutical business sites of the Sumitomo Corporation Group was organized.
Providing a one-stop service for the pharmaceutical business
Summit Pharmaceuticals International (SPI) imports the world class leading-edge research equipment from Europe, the United States and various other countries for sales in Japan in its drug discovery support business. With a great number of specialists and professionals who have experiences in the pharmaceuticals field, SPI delivers all kinds of services, along with the ingredients and materials for the initial and subsequent development phases of new drugs and also for the development of generic drugs as a specialized trading company within the Sumitomo Corporation Group.
SPI has two laboratories; the Yokohama Support Center and API(*) Laboratory, making it a unique and highly professional company that cannot be found in other integrated trading company groups, thus these two sites were chosen as the tour destinations. At the Yokohama Support Center, targeted to the leading Japanese researchers in the biological field, demonstrations of tools such as the gene and cell analysis equipments, an advanced imaging system are conducted, and repair and maintenance services are provided. The API Laboratory evaluates the quality of APIs, sets API specifications and testing methods and also conducts releasing/rejecting tests on the imported APIs.
At the beginning of the tour, a brief explanation was given to the participants, at SPI's head office, on the Sumitomo Corporation Group's pharmaceuticals business that the objectives of which the Group focuses on in order to expand its value chain are; (1) API supplies to manufacturers of generic drugs and others; (2) a multifaceted approach to new drug discovery ventures; and (3) business expansion into the emerging pharmaceutical market.
Firstly, regarding (1) API supplies to manufacturers of generic drugs and others, due to the clear statement of the generic drugs target share in the pharmaceuticals market (i.e. 80% or higher by the end of 2020) in the Japanese government's economic and fiscal policy, it is expected that the market for generic drugs will expand, which will in turn boost demand for APIs. SPI contributes to foster generic drugs, by exploiting Sumitomo Corporation's global network to find highly price competitive suppliers of APIs with good quality. The existence of the API Laboratory, which analyzes the imported APIs of generic drugs and long-term listed drugs (brand name drugs whose patents have expired) for quality assurance, bolsters the business of SPI.
Secondly, (2) the multifaceted approach to new drug discovery ventures; this approach is embodied in the "concierge service". The development of a new drug requires vast cost and time, which imposes tremendous burdens on pharmaceutical companies, while there are many biological venture companies abroad that conduct R&D for promising new drugs and provide drug discovery support. This is where Sumitomo Corporation becomes significant and serves as a bridge between these overseas biological ventures and pharmaceutical companies/research institutes in Japan, by providing the biological ventures with a multifaceted service called "concierge service".
Lastly, (3) business expansion into the emerging pharmaceutical market. The size of the Japanese pharmaceutical market is now ranked second in the world behind the United States, nevertheless, the pharmaceuticals markets in emerging economies are expected to grow substantially in the near future. The Sumitomo Corporation Group plans to encourage the expansion of its value chain also targeting the emerging markets by making maximum use of its global network.
(*)API stands for "active pharmaceutical ingredients".
The Yokohama Support Center is located within the Yokohama Bio Production Center.
The API Laboratory conducts its own analysis to check whether the quality of imported APIs conforms to the Japanese standards before the delivery to the customers.
For leading-edge drug discovery research
After the overview of the pharmaceutical business, the participants were then taken to SPI's Yokohama Support Center, where they were introduced with its advanced equipments. The Center has a variety of state-of-the-art research instruments used in the development of pharmaceuticals.
The IVIS Imaging System is an optical imaging system that allows observations from outside the body, of a) in-vivo gene activities, b) changes in the number of cells and c) cell migration , and is used for research into cancers and infectious diseases as well as for the development of drugs and research on regenerative medicine. Data can be collected from animals while keeping them alive, which is highly valued also from the viewpoint of animal protection. SPI has been selling the system for more than a decade, and demonstrations for sales promotion is conducted whenever required.
Sales of IVIS have reached at least 180 units in Japan, and the system is becoming indispensable for pharmaceutical companies, universities and various research institutes. SPI also provides consulting service to the organizations that use IVIS to help them make better use of the system for their research, and this very supportive service is highly appreciated by the organizations.
The next-generation imaging system "Solaris," which was newly marketed in 2015, is also another high-profile system in the industry. While conventional equipment only allowed observation of small animals, users of Solaris can also observe medium- to large-size animals with the system, which is expected to be used as equipment for the translational research in order to be conducted prior to clinical tests targeted on human beings.
Finally, the participants were taken to the API Laboratory, having a floor area of which was expanded by about 1.5 times than the original in 2012, it presently has 37 types of measuring instruments, including those additionally introduced in March 2015. By consisting a variety of research devices, the Laboratory is capable of analyzing a much wider range of APIs. Hiroyuki Takahashi, who is the head of the API Laboratory says, "The quality of APIs required for generic drugs is on a par with or higher than that required for brand name drugs. We believe it is one of our major responsibilities to ensure the stable supply of high-quality APIs to our customers." In the future, as the government fosters the use of generic drugs, demands for the analysis and supply of APIs from manufacturers/sellers of generic drugs are projected to further expand.
One of the journalists who participated in the site tour commented, "I rarely have a chance to attend a tour of a research laboratory, so I am very pleased to have this precious opportunity. It is interesting that an integrated trading company owns a laboratory (through one of its Group companies)." They also raised questions from a range of aspects, including those on new measures to be taken in the regenerative medicine market and the "concierge service" that includes financing for the new drug discovery ventures. President & CEO of SPI, Yoshiki Terawaki said, "we are determined to continuously contribute to the growth of the pharmaceutical industry and support people for their healthier lives."
A scene at Yokohama Support Center; participants had their interests engaged to the explanations of advanced equipments.
At the API Laboratory, participants were demonstrated how analysis tests are carried out by the research staff.
|Site Tour Overview|
|Date||August 28, 2015|
|Participants||Nine journalists from eight media|
|Purpose||To provide the participants an opportunity to see behind-the-scenes activities and better understand how effectively Sumitomo's integrated corporate strength works within an individual Group business.|
|Main Activities||Briefing on pharmaceuticals business of the Sumitomo Corporation Group. Facility tour at Summit Pharmaceuticals International's Yokohama Support Center and API Laboratory. Interviews with related staffs.|
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