Drug sales to Japan may suffer from new rules, pharma leader warns

One year after Japan tightened its drug pricing system in a bid to make cutting-edge treatments more affordable, the restrictions threaten to slow drug sales to the country, a pharmaceutical industry leader warned last month.

Under the new policy, announced in 2018, government evaluations of the level of innovation of new drugs determine the reimbursement rates Japan’s public healthcare insurance system will pay pharmaceutical firms for their products. The policy also replaces biannual drug reviews with yearly reviews.

Speaking in Tokyo in October, Giovanni Caforio, CEO of Bristol-Myers Squibb and chair of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said the new regulations make the country’s market less attractive to pharma firms. Caforio called the policy “overly restrictive” and said it risks diverting direct foreign pharmaceutical investment away from Japan.