Japanese pharma giants launch $100M global R&D initiative

In a sharp reversal of its long neglect of diseases that afflict the poor in the world's emerging markets, a slate of Japan's top pharma companies have joined a $100 million effort to tackle HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and tropical diseases.

Astellas, Eisai, Daiichi Sankyo, Shionogi and Takeda will be chipping in $5 million each over 5 years to fund a lineup of research grants, with added cash being contributed by the Japanese government alongside the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) has helped spearhead similar efforts in Europe, but Japan's pharma companies have maintained a sharp focus on their home market, the U.S. and new markets that promise fast sales growth. Now, though, they've agreed to open up their libraries of drug compounds to help find new therapies while collaborating on the lab effort required, according to a report from the Financial Times.

Executive Director BT Slingsby says grants will range from $50,000 into the millions and will be open to investigators willing to support the move to develop affordable therapies for poor countries. The FT adds that among the notable companies missing from the list of partners is Japan's Otsuka.

- here's the story from the Financial Times