LONDON - A new consultancy has been set up to help European biotechnology companies secure partnerships with pharmaceutical companies in Japan.

Goodfellow Healthcare, set up by Richard Goodfellow, a former director of Scotia Pharmaceuticals Ltd., has formed a partnership with Tad International, which is run by an ex-president of SmithKline Beecham plc's Japan division, Tad Wakabayashi.

Goodfellow told BioWorld International that, in general, European biotechnology firms neglect Japan, either because they consider it too difficult to get into, or because they do not have sufficient resources.

“The Japanese market is the second biggest in the world, but most young companies want to sort out Europe and the U.S. first,“ he said. “There is great opportunity in Japan, and European companies will now be able to outsource business development in the region to us.“

Goodfellow noted many biotechnology companies rely on outsourcing to access the skills and services they require in areas such as manufacturing and clinical development.

“I don't see why business development can't be outsourced in the same way,“ he observed. “Most start-up companies have a single business development manager, who may not have extensive business experience. Yet it is important to secure high-quality partnerships at soon as possible, to validate the technology and raise further funds.“

Japanese Looking For Biotech Partners

As director of licensing and new business development at Scotia Pharmaceuticals, in Stirling, Scotland, Goodfellow negotiated a number of deals, most notably for Scotia's photodynamic cancer therapy agent, Foscan. He also worked for Astra AB, of Sodertalje, Sweden, where he was responsible for the launch of the company's biggest-selling product, the ulcer drug Losec.

Tad International is one of the leading consultancies in Japan. Apart from London-based SmithKline Beecham, Wakabayashi also held senior positions in Whitehouse, N.J.-based Merck & Co. Inc.'s Japanese subsidiary.

Goodfellow, who has worked with Wakabayashi for five years, said, “As someone who was born in the U.S. but is as Japanese as anyone, he is a unique [person] in Japan. Together we can provide in-depth assistance to companies seeking to gain a foothold in the lucrative Japanese market, or to identify licensing partners.“

According to Goodfellow, Japanese pharmaceutical companies currently are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Foreign multinationals prefer to set up their own marketing operations, and are gradually gaining market share at the expense of domestic companies.

“Big Japanese companies now recognize they need to go elsewhere for products, and one route is to do deals with biotechs,“ Goodfellow said.

Biotechnology firms will be at a negotiating advantage because, in general, Japanese companies only want rights for their domestic market, leaving the biotechnology firms free to concentrate on the U.S. and Europe.

“In most cases, start-ups put the priority on finding U.S. or European partners, and consider they do not have the resources to find Japanese partners,“ Goodfellow added. “Now they can outsource this aspect of their commercial development to us.“ *