Japan Releases First Pharma Industry Vision in Eight Years, Calls for Ramping up Vaccine Production and Developing New Lifesaving Drugs

Japan’s health agencies in September released a set of goals for encouraging the development of life-saving drugs, speeding clinical trials, and encouraging medical research and technological advances.

Developed by the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW), the strategy document, the  Pharma Industry Vision 2021, includes some measures specifically designed to respond to the experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. It would transfer national vaccine testing from the National Institutes of Infectious Diseases (NIID) to the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (PMDA), allowing the NIID to become more focused and specialized, and make vaccine production smoother.

The set of policy goals also includes increasing discussions between pharmaceutical and government officials to better develop future reforms and legislation. It encourages a focus on developing innovative drugs, increasing the amount of generic drugs in the Japanese market, and instituting pricing changes in a measured and predictable way, to make it easier for pharmaceutical makers to invest in research and development.

The Pharma Industry Vision was last revised eight years ago. The first set of such strategies dates back to 2002. The strategies are designed to promote the development of new drugs, and have been key in creating systems for delivering needed pharmaceutical treatments to consumers.

Ministry officials have been telegraphing the need to revise the Vision for some time, citing the importance of ensuring pharmaceutical innovations keep pace with rising drug prices, and the public is given a better understanding of how drugs are developed.