Medical purchasers in Japan put extra focus on the quality and reliability of medical products. Achieving successful pharmaceutical product sales in Japan will require a competent Japanese distributor with both product expertise and connections with key purchasers. However, finding such a highly qualified distributor in Japan can be difficult.
Pacific Bridge Medical has years of experience and can connect you with the top Japanese pharmaceutical distributor candidates for your specific drug product. Through due diligence and thorough examination, we can help you qualify a variety of distributor choices.
Japan Pharmaceutical Distributor Search Challenges
- Lengthy Timeframe: Locating a suitable pharmaceutical distributor in Japan can be time consuming. Japanese distributors often wish to conduct numerous in-person meetings at the initial stage of developing a relationship with your firm. They are also very particular about learning your company background and the specifics of your drug (e.g. quality systems, current customer base, competitive advantage, etc.), before signing a distribution agreement.
- Designated Marketing Authorization Holder (DMAH or MAH):It is necessary for all foreign companies that are selling drugs in Japan to appoint a MAH. The MAH is responsible for importing products from the manufacturer, ensuring the safety and quality of these products, storing the products in a licensed establishment if necessary, and then selling the products to Japanese distributors. The MAH may be either (1) a distributor; (2) a third party entity such as Pacific Bridge Medical; or (3) the company’s own office in Japan. While some foreign companies choose to designate their distributor as their MAH in Japan, there are significant disadvantages with this option. First, the distributor may be given access to important information (e.g., details on product development and raw materials), which puts the foreign company’s confidential information at risk. Second, issues may arise if the foreign company is dissatisfied with the performance of their current distributor and wishes to change distributors. The current distributor may not transfer the license willingly, particularly if they will lose profitable business. The most risk-free option is to have the registration in your own name, through an independent third party. Pacific Bridge Medical can serve as your third party entity or DMAH in Japan.
- Network and Expertise: When selecting a Japanese pharmaceutical distributor, it is crucial to choose a company that has sales expertise in your pharmaceutical product area. Not all distributors will have a strong background in your drug category. Another key point is to select a Japanese pharmaceutical distributor with solid relationships with key opinion leaders and purchasers, such as surgeons and hospitals that specialize in your drug category. A large Japanese distributor with strong market presence can not only provide in-house product registration assistance but also help with various services that will help sell your product.
- Language: A foreign pharmaceutical company may need to hire medical translators to properly communicate and work with their Japanese distributor. Many Japanese pharmaceutical distributors are proficient in their English reading skills but have limited English speaking skills.
Our Japan Pharmaceutical Distributor Search Process
- First, we start the process in our local Tokyo office, where we can utilize our local knowledge to investigate, assess, and identify the right distributors for your pharmaceutical company.
- Second, we educate these prospective Japanese distributors on the details of your drug product. We discuss with them the opportunity for expansion, the innovative aspects of the product, and possible competitors.
- Third, distributors send in their sales proposals, which outline their marketing approach for the drug, projected revenue, etc.
- Finally, we will select the distributors that are most fitting in terms of relevance to your company after carefully reviewing the proposals. We will also help with negotiating and finalizing the contract.
With almost 30 years of experience when it comes to locating and overseeing the top Japanese pharmaceutical distributors, Pacific Bridge Medical can help you find the right distributor in Japan. Please contact us if you are interested in discussing your specific needs with our Japan distribution consultants.
Need more information?
Visit our Resource Center to view free webcasts and charts or read publications, news, and research reports on the Asia medical markets.