Clinigen strengthens global ethical access lead with new Japanese buy

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Clinigen has bought Japan’s largest supplier of unlicensed medicines. (visualspace/E+/Getty Images)

Already a strong managed access presence in Europe, Clinigen is now one step closer to becoming the field’s global leader. The company has snapped up International Medical Management Corporation (IMMC), Japan’s largest supplier of unlicensed medicines.

The news came one year after the CRO and pharma hybrid launched its Japanese business with the establishment of Clinigen K.K., and just a month after it decided to buy up compatriot Quantum Pharma for £150.3 million ($200 million).

Clinigen made a peripheral move at the Japanese market in 2015 via an acquisition of medicines and medical devices supplier Link Healthcare, which has offices in Singapore, South Africa and Australia, and also operates in Hong Kong, Japan and New Zealand. Its Japanese business later became part of Clinigen K.K.

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IMMC, on the other hand, is focused on the Japanese market. Founded in 2006, the company provides such products as vaccines and drugs in oncology and in vitro fertilization to hospitals and healthcare professionals. It manages a network of more than 850 hospitals and clinics, which Clinigen said “will now be able to benefit from the broader access to medicines available as part of Clinigen.” For the past 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2017, IMMC’s gross profit was 352 million Japanese yen ($3.1 million).

Since IMMC enjoys a good reputation in Japan, Clinigen plans to keep the brand for the foreseeable future, according to a media aide for the company.

Although one of the largest pharmaceutical markets in the world, Japan imposes strict regulations on medicines and the drug approval process can be costly and time consuming. Clinigen said in a statement that of the 154 new drugs launched globally between 2008 and 2012, only a third was made available in Japan by 2013.

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Japan allows lawful access to officially yet unapproved medicines, that’s where IMMC comes in. It provides consulting and assistance to physicians who look to obtain those foreign meds for their patients. But that pathway, according to Clinigen, is also highly regulated and hence underdeveloped. The situation helped make Japan a big target for illegal sources of drug sales.

With the IMMC buy, Clinigen intends to fill that unmet medical need through a larger international network, while further strengthening its position as a leader in managed access.

Similar to its purchase of Link Healthcare, the British company purchased IMMC with an upfront cash payment, to be followed by potential milestones over the next 12 months. The exact amount was not disclosed.