Japan to help Brazil speed up safety examination of new drugs

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to tell Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff when they meet in Brazil on Aug. 1 that Japan will provide expertise to speed up the Latin American country's process to examine the safety of new drugs, a government source said Wednesday.

Tokyo plans to offer data the Japanese authority in charge of drug examination has accumulated and send experts on pharmaceutical administration, the source said.

With help to shorten the screening period for new drugs in Brazil, Tokyo hopes to boost sales of pharmaceutical products there.

It will be the first time for Tokyo to provide know-how on the examination of new drugs to another country. Abe is expected to sign a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the medical sector during his meeting with Rousseff.

The health and medical sectors are key areas covered by the Abe government's economic growth strategy. The government aims to increase the market shares of Japan's high-quality medical equipment and pharmaceutical products in emerging countries.

The government regards Brazil as a suitable place to provide Japanese medical expertise as demand for medical products is expected to surge there given the country's economic growth. The existence of many Japanese-Brazilian doctors in Brazil also makes it easier for Japanese companies to enter the market.

In Brazil, it takes 21 to 30 months for a new drug to be approved for sale after completing clinical trials, while in Japan it only four to 13 months, according to the source.

The Japanese government thinks a lack of sufficient knowledge among Brazilian authorities has dragged out the screening process and the situation can be changed by dispatching experts from Japanese drug examination authority to provide know-how to their Brazilian counterparts.

The two countries' governments are expected to jointly set up a plan for speeding up the drug examination process by the end of this year.