Japan Strives to Expand Medical Sector

The Japanese government has revealed a plan to boost the development of healthcare, innovative medical devices and drugs in the country. If the plan passes the National Diet, Japan’s medical sector will grow by about $630 billion and 2.8 million jobs will be created by the year 2020. In particular, around $22 billion of the growth will come from developing new medical devices and drugs.

The pharmaceutical industry and academia will be coordinated by the Council on the Realization of New Growth Strategies to construct infrastructure for inventing new medical devices and drugs. Manufacturers and research institutions will be given support to commercialize the new products domestically and overseas. However, the Council did not specify how the plan would be financed. The European Chamber of Commerce and the American Medical Devices and Diagnostics Manufacturers’ Association have also been negotiating with the Japanese authorities about simplifying regulations for foreign medical device companies.

The plan to encourage innovation of drugs and medical devices is the most recent attempt by the Japanese government to stimulate growth of the country’s medical industry, following a proposal to overhaul the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law (PAL). According to the proposal, medical devices that are similar to already approved devices will receive expedited approval. Some of them may even be exempt from the approval application. The proposal will be presented to the National Diet in 2013 at the earliest.