From a Calendar to a Japanese pharmaceutical company working on antisense approach to DMD

For the last 4 years I have been the fortunate recipient of a calendar. This is not just any calendar and of course it has some link to pharmaceuticals.

This one has been carefully tightly wrapped in a sheet of beige paper and sent on its journey thousands of miles by my friend Dr. Tomoko Niwa at the pharmaceutical manufacturer Nippon Shinyaku Co. Ltd., Kyoto, Japan.  Each calendar has highlighted some aspect of that beautiful city. This year’s calendar arrived today and celebrates children’s songs of Kyoto.

The calendar contains the illustrations of 4 different artists using textile dying techniques. The photo shows some of the calendars.calendar photo And receiving this made me want to find out more about the company.

I did not know too much about this company founded in 1911 but I have respect for any company that still puts patients first and has a pretty interesting late stage pipeline. The company is also pretty consistent in terms of income too. It’s also interesting to note that they state  “At present, we are focusing on nucleic acid drug discovery for patients suffering from intractable or rare diseases which have been difficult to treat”. In 2013 they announced starting a clinical study for an antisense oligonucleotide they developed with the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry, for the rare disease Duchene Muscular Dystrophy. It will be interesting to see how this progresses. Honestly, I would not have known it without digging through their website.

I also found an interesting angle which I am guessing not many US pharmas have which is a functional food division. At a time when many major pharmas have sold off non-pharmaceuticals (e.g. GSK and Lucozade), this seems like a diversification strategy still alive in Japan. For example Otsuka Pharmaceuticals markets the energy drink Pocari Sweat and a whole array of other drinks as well as developing drugs like aripiprazole .

I am not aware of any other pharmaceutical companies that have such a novel way to celebrate the new year.

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