Kyowa’s Inada

Akros Pharma Early AIDS Drug

Ono Pharma: Injectable Drugs

Teijin America Former Textile Firm

Kirin & Medarex

Corrections or additions?

This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the October 3, 2001

edition of U.S.

1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Rising Sun in Princeton

Here are the Japanese companies in Princeton. For the introduction to

this article, see

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Kyowa’s Inada

From the very beginning, Kyowa Hakko Kogyo has been

a research-oriented company. "Our current president is a medicinal

chemist, and two-thirds of our presidents have been researchers,"

says Tetsushi Inada, president of the pharmaceutical division, Kyowa

Pharmaceutical Inc. "We believe our `science driven culture’ will

be successful in the scientific market."

The 10th largest pharmaceutical firm in Japan is indeed proud of its

heritage. The backbone of this company is science, not consumer


and its early expertise in fermentation technology helped get a good

bargaining position with the big pharmas in the United States.

The 52-year-old company moved its United States office from Manhattan

to 13,000 square feet at the Carnegie Center two years ago, and it

has 30 employees here. Kyowa Pharmaceuticals is working on the


development of such drugs as anti-cancer and anti-Parkinson’s disease

agents. The company has one of the most extensive lines of amino acids

and related compounds and is known for the production of the


CoenzymeQ10. CoQ10 has been used to treat congestive heart failure

in Japan for 30 years, and more than 6 million Japanese take it now.

The parent company draws on its fermentation, chemical synthesis and

biotechnologies, and about 1,400 researchers — one-fourth of its

labor force — work in nine research laboratories worldwide.


areas include pharmaceuticals, fine and industrial chemicals and


animal health products, nutritional supplements, and food.

The move to the United States emphasizes that, instead of limiting

itself to licensing compounds from western countries and providing

chemically made and natural ingredients to the big Western pharmas,

Kyowa is investing in its own research. It plans to export its own

finished products, particularly in the areas of oncology and the


nervous system. "Now we want to focus on our own discoveries,"

says Inada. "Some of our compounds are ready."

Visitors to Kyowa’s third floor Carnegie Center office pass through

a tranquil waiting room, with Japanese prints depicting cranes, to

reach Inada’s corner suite. He tells a story

about Kyowa’s beginnings that has resonance for its business model


The words "Kyowa" and "Hakko" translate to


and "fermentation," he says. Kyowa’s founder was a biochemist

and army officer, named Cato, who was trying to make fuel for


and ships during World War II. Cato tried to adapt basic fermentation

technology for industrial use. After the war, he successfully


with the United States Navy to get control of a big sugar plant on

the western island of Japan, and the Navy shipped molasses from Guam

to the factory at almost no charge.

"The starting material was almost free," says Inada. Soon

the factory was producing a wide selection of foods, ingredients,

and food-related products such as amino acids and nucleic acids for

the manufacture of food, liquor, fine chemicals, biochemicals, and


A big breakthrough came when, in the 1950s and ’60s, Kyowa devised

a way to make monosodiumglutamate (MSG) using fermentation — an

inexpensive process compared to the extraction and purifying method

used at the time. "Their method was expensive," says Inada.

"Our founder focused on mass production at low cost, but it was

still very profitable."

In the 1960s and ’70s the company filed many patents for using


to produce amino acids and nucleic acids. Now it is one of just a

handful of companies to be able to supply large quantities of medical

quality amino acids, suitable for injectable fluids, and it has 30

percent of the market for injectable fluids in the United States.

Kyowa also has its own formulary for streptomycin.

An early milestone was Cato’s visit to Merck. "A huge licensing

fee created the

basis of the pharmaceutical entity," says Inada, "and started

collaborative work with Merck."

At least partly because Kyowa has so much knowledge in the


area, it now has a joint discovery program with both Merck and Abbott

Laboratories. In 1978 Kyowa Hakko also put together a joint venture

with Johnson & Johnson, now called Janssen-Kyowa, that sells 10


products, including an antipsychotic drug, Risperdale, and an oral

anti-fungal drug, Itrizole. Kyowa licenses an anticancer drug to


Squibb, sends bulk pharmaceuticals to Bristol-Myers and Eli Lilly,

and Eli Lilly has taken drugs for approval.

Inada grew up 40 minutes from Osaka, on a "nice

quiet island" and went to a high school, Takamatsu, with a more

than 100-year history. He keeps up with the 950 people in his class

via the Internet, and in Tokyo the school’s parties draw alumni.

He went to Ikayoma College and to Osaka Medical School, choosing to

do a PhD because he liked the science, but not the

practice. He did immune systems and oncology research for eight years

at Brandeis and MIT’s cancer center. After working in Manhattan for

a dozen years, commuting from Berkeley Heights, he moved to Princeton

two years ago. He and his wife have two sons, one a stockbroker in

Tokyo, the other attending Mercer Community College.

He learned from his late father, a business man, "to enjoy life,

to do whatever you want. He lived in such a way — he worked very

hard, and he played a lot of golf."

"We are supporting Japan’s effort — and products," says

Joe Brindisi, general counsel and vice president of business


"We have a commercialization vision but are not ready to call

it a strategy. Starting with global distribution efforts, we are


rapidly and are going to at least double in size next year. So while

there are job cuts elsewhere, Kyowa is doing very well."

Despite its support in technology and finance, Kyowa considers itself

a startup, with all the excitement that entails. "Cato created

a business from nothing, and in the states we are responsible to


a pharmaceutical business from nothing," says Inada. "It is

fortunate we have a strong support pipeline."

Kyowa Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (KYKOF), 104 Carnegie

Center, Suite 301, Princeton 08540. Tetsushi Inada PhD, president.

609-919-1100; fax, 609-919-1111. Home page:

Top Of Page
Akros Pharma Early AIDS Drug

Akros Pharma Inc. has grown exponentially since it


an office here last fall and now has a 15,000 square foot space and

35 employees in the Carnegie Center. Akros — the Greek word for

pinnacle — is overseeing clinical trials in the U.S. and Europe,

establishing relationships with biotech companies and universities,

and arranging licensing agreements.

Tatsuya Yoneyama, the president of the 13-year-old firm, had the


to locate the company anywhere. "I decided New Jersey should be

the place for us — it is a mecca for pharmaceutical


says Yoneyama. "I visited all of New Jersey. I started out in

the northern part of New Jersey and went from north to South. It was

cold bleak winter, all covered with snow. Usually Japanese American

companies are based in the northern part, but the trend is coming

down. Princeton is the southern limit."

An avid golfer for 25 years (he claims a single digit handicap), he

likes the course at Jasna Polana, but as for the town of Princeton,

it is much smaller than he had imagined. "Nassau Street has some

pretty good restaurants and shops, but the first day I went to the

town, I thought there should be a bigger one!"

Yoneyama considers his location a prime recruiting incentive. He chose

the newest Carnegie Center building, and its cathedral ceiling


feels like the interior of a very big teahouse. Inside, the office

has a spacious, elegant feeling. "This is very beautiful —

maybe the atmosphere will appeal to people. We are still hiring people

and will expand to one-third more space," he says.

The pharmaceutical arm of Japan Tobacco (JT), based in Tokyo, Akros

bills itself as a "research-heavy" organization, with 85


of its workforce as scientists and more than 100 internal programs.

Yoneyama helped strike an early partnership with a Warner Lambert

company, Agouron, in the joint development of an AIDS drug, Viracept,

the top selling protease inhibitor in the U.S. "Agouron didn’t

have financial resources, and they knew us and proposed the


he says. "We had to center development work in the United States.

It was on the fast track for the FDA, but it took us nearly three

years. With fewer side effects and easier compliance, it had the


one position after two years. Sales level off, and other drugs are

on the market, but it is still saving a lot of lives."

At some point, Akros turned away from licensing products out to other

companies. "We decided it was time to do it ourselves," he

says. "This could be a foothold for the future of our


For business development, his firm had been spending time and money

on services from American companies. "If we put that function

in with this company, it makes it very smooth." Akros plans for

its pharmaceutical business to break even in five or six years.

With concentration on metabolic and renal diseases, cardiovascular

conditions, inflammation and immunology, and antivirals, Akros works

with combinatorial chemistry and with genomics, in collaboration with

Maryland-based Gene Logic. It is doing early clinical studies in the

therapeutic areas of virology, pain management and diabetes mellitus.

Akros has licensed its products to such companies as Johnson & Johnson

and Pharmacia & Upjohn.

With Tularik in San Francisco, it is using gene regulation for


for metabolic diseases, on diabetes and obesity, and on orphan nuclear

receptors. Other partners are Chiron in the Bay Area, and Corixa in


In the United Kingdom, Akros has several programs — a proof of

concept study for a pain drug, and ones for anticoagulation and


— and they will soon be ready to file with the USFDA.

Yoneyama was born in Tokyo in 1948, and in postwar Japan

his parents struggled to educate him and his older brother. His father

had a printing company, but his real passion was cartooning and


novels, novels that did not sell well, Yoneyama adds. His parents

were unusually lenient. "They just let me do whatever I wanted,

and that was a good thing for me," he says.

He made a particularly unusual move when he chose to attend an


college, Hokkaido University, in the hinterlands of Sapporo. The


was influenced by an American scholar from Massachusetts, W.L. Clark.

Clark inspired a nation of young men with his dictum, Boys, Be


"It’s a phrase everyone knows in Japan, and it was very inspiring

to everyone, even me," he says. "The Christian influence at

the school was very strong." He majored in chemistry, graduating

in 1970.

Yoneyama has worked in the pharmaceutical area for the past 10 years,

but right after graduation, he joined Japan Tobacco (JT). This is his

third international assignment,

and his wife and daughter have stayed in Tokyo. He represented the

business in U.S. tobacco centers, Georgia and North Carolina, and

then transferred to Thailand before going back to Japan.

"At that time Japan Tobacco was a state owned company. Twelve or

13 years ago it was allowed to go public, so we could start any

business, and pharmaceutical is one of the main businesses

we focus on," he says. "They say the tobacco industry has

deep pockets. But the tobacco business is so thin, so expensive

— labor costs are relatively high, and our manufacturing costs

are higher. The average pack costs $20 now."

Still, he assures himself, "The money men know the pharmaceutical

business takes a lot of time to be fully profitable. They are patient

even now, and we are spending a lot of money. We have one profit

source, Agouron."

He finds it exhilarating to be at the head of a pharmaceutical company

with high goals. "I had the same feeling when I had the job with

Agouron," says Yoneyama, recounting the triumph. "There was

no medicine for AIDS, yet there were potentially nearly 1 million

affected people. This job is very challenging."

Akros Pharma Inc., 302 Carnegie Center, Suite 300,

Princeton 08540. Tatsuya Yoneyama, president. 609-919-9570; fax,


Top Of Page
Ono Pharma: Injectable Drugs

Ono Pharmaceutical has a policy of releasing no information, says the

person in charge at this site.

The youngest of the companies here, it is based in Osaka but its first

United States office was in Hackensack. It moved to 12,000 square

feet at Princeton Plaza Corporate Center Drive last December (U.S.

1, September 6, 2000) and has grown to about 20 employees. With


it is doing clinical studies.

Ono Pharma USA Inc., 2000 Lenox Drive, Princeton

Pike Corporate Center, Lawrenceville 08648. Katsura Kasahara,

president. 609-219-1010; fax, 609-219-9229. Home page:

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Teijin America Former Textile Firm

Now based in Osaka and Tokyo, Teijin was founded in 1918 and pioneered

in textiles — rayon, nylon, and polyesters — for its first

50 years. It went into the healthcare business with partnerships in

1971 and set up its own pharmaceutical division in 1978. In addition

to producing home health-care equipment it has researchers working

in three therapeutic areas: respiratory ailments, bone calcium


disorders, and cardiovascular disorders.

This four-person office in Alexander Park opened in July 2000, and

Tamatsu Koyama, managing director, does not wish to provide


information or particular information about the office’s activities.

The company trades on the Tokyo stock exchange.

Teijin America Inc., 600 Alexander Park, Suite

304, Princeton 08540. Tamatsu Koyama, managing director. 609-716-7636;

fax, 609-716-9482. Home page:

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Kirin & Medarex

Another Japanese pharmaceutical company, Kirin, has

an important connection to Princeton, an agreement with Medarex Inc.,

the State Road-based company founded by Donald Drakeman and known

worldwide for its transgenic mice that create fully human antibodies.

Kirin had its own mouse that was able to produce all the five major

types and the subtypes of antibodies. Kirin agreed to give Medarex

access to its mouse plus $12 million. The two companies now have


to each other’s technology and were able to cross-breed their mice.

The result, unveiled last December, is called the Kirin Medarex (KM)


In Medarex’ UltiMAb system now are the HuMAb mouse, the Kirin mouse,

and the Kirin Medarex mouse. Both companies have a clear intellectual

property position, says a spokesperson.

Kirin is the pharmaceutical division of Japan’s leading beer company,

the fourth largest in the world by sales volume (

In pharmaceuticals Kirin is working in the fields of renal,


immune systems and allergy-related diseases, cancer, and blood cell

production. Its recombinant DNA-based ESPO (erythropoietin) and GRAN

(G-CSF), co-developed with Amgen, have annual sales exceeding $300

million in Asia.

Medarex (MEDX), 707 State Road, Princeton Gateway,

Suite 206, Princeton 08540. Donald L. Drakeman, president.


fax, 609-430-2850. Home page:

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