Japan is considering opening further its drug market to western producers in an effort to speed up access to better treatment and reduce costs for its healthcare system.
Japan’s drug market, worth $96 billion, is attractive for foreign pharmaceutical companies. Only last year, companies like Merck & Co, AstraZeneca Plc and GlaxoSmithKline Plc got approval to sell some of their products in Japan, a country with a rapidly ageing population.
The Japanese government is now considering introducing a “compassionate use” system that would allow patients with advanced diseases that have not succeeded with other treatments to use medical products not yet approved in Japan, if no other domestic options are available.
Japan would allow for the use of drugs which are under clinical trials in Japan but have been previously approved in other markets like Europe or the U.S. Such system is already in place in western countries.
According to sources quoted by the Japanese press, the government could allow for the health insurance to pay for such treatment, even if normally Japanese patients pay themselves for non-approved treatments.