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Transdermal technology experts enjoy niche dominance as a “quiet innovator”

Article - June 27, 2023

Since its foundation in 1848, Teikoku Seiyaku has continued to support medical innovation with the production of transdermal medication.

“Our mission is to make it easier for all people, regardless of social status, to have access to effective medicines.”

Misako Fujioka, President, Teikoku Seiyaku Co., Ltd.

The history of Teikoku Seiyaku can be traced back 175 years to 1848, when Shozo Akazawa obtained a license to open a pharmacy in Sanbonmatsu, Kagawa. Seventy years later in 1918, Chutaro Akazawa, head of the seventh generation of the family, established Teikoku Seiyaku Company Limited. At that time, the pharmaceutical industry focused on cure-all products claiming to relieve all sorts of symptoms. Chutaro, however, decided to concentrate on effective drugs that targeted specific symptoms.

A century on and Chutaro’s vision and pioneering spirit still drives the business approach at Teikoku Seiyaku, which today is a world leader in research and development of transdermal technology. Its key product, the hydrogel patch, has been developed over several decades and is based on the company’s Hydrohesive technology.

“Our continued growth comes from our drive to be the world’s number-one producer of hydrogel patches. We place a particular focus on transdermal systems and pain relief medicine,” explains current president Misako Fujioka. As a world-class group of professionals in transdermal technology, Teikoku Seiyaku has been able to obtain many market authorizations for new drugs, and in the process gained the trust of many patients. The company is active in joint research and development with other companies both in Japan and overseas.

In addition to the hydrogel patch, Teikoku Seiyaku has produced many more transdermal products such as tapes, plasters, ointments, creams, and more. The company has been responsible for several world-first products over its history, including ALLYDONE, a medicated patch to treat early onset dementia associated with Alzheimer’s, which received approval in Japan in December 2022.

With plans for further expansion worldwide, Teikoku Seiyaku has already found success in the U.S. market with Lidoderm, which is used to relieve the pain of postherpetic neuralgia. “We are striving to maintain and develop our position in the U.S.,” says Ms. Fujioka. “Many pharma companies from the U.S. and worldwide have approached us to develop new transdermal patches for the U.S. market with them because they know about our success with transdermal technology. This has been one way we have secured a position in the American transdermal medicine market.”

Aside from the U.S, Teikoku Seiyaku is also targeting markets throughout Asia. "We want to make it easier for all people, regardless of social status, to have access to effective medicines like our products," adds Ms. Fujioka, whose long term focus is on sustainable development and Teikoku Seiyaku's 200th anniversary in 25 years' time.

"I will continue to ensure that Teikoku Seiyaku is a sustainable company over the next 25 years. In order to do that, we need to focus on growth and establishing the younger generation of Teikoku Seiyaku. They will be the ones that will lead the company in the not-so-distant future, so they need to be ready to take on that responsibility."