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This innovative invention prize is the highest award in Japan which began nearly a century ago in 1919. The prize comes from the “Japanese Institute of Invention and Innovation” (JIII). The JIII has been under the patron of H.I.H. Prince Hitachi since 1968. The award is to recognize people, who have accomplished original inventions, and contributed to the promotion of technology and is extremely rare for a pharmaceutical company to be awarded such an honor.
This year, The Imperial Invention Prize was awarded to Otsuka Pharmaceutical’s 3 researchers, Seiji Sato, Yasuo Oshiro and Nobuyuki Kurahashi for the invention of the compound aripiprazole. Sato, Oshiro and Kurahashi were part of a research team that synthesized a new medication for treating schizophrenia, the first antipsychotic drug developed in the world with a dopamine D2 receptor partial agonist action.
Yasuo Oshiro, Ph.D., Corporate Advisor, Intellectual Property Department, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. said, “Receiving the Imperial Invention Prize is the highest honor. I never imagined being awarded this prize. As someone working in drug research and development, it is extremely gratifying to receive this award. I am fortunate to be surrounded by colleagues who have offered me their unwavering support and encouragement. None of what I have achieved would have been possible without the help of such exceptional coworkers in the fields of drug synthesis and pharmaceutics.”
Schizophrenia is thought to be caused by an imbalance of chemicals — serotonin and dopamine — that are found in the brain. The condition is characterized by positive and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, speaking, and behavior. Negative symptoms include lack of emotion, lack of energy, and lack of motivation.
Dr. Oshiro had put importance on 3 hypotheses during his research; first, the compound should selectively block dopamine receptors. Second, the amount of dopamine should be reduced. And third, side effects should be lessened. After all three conditions were satisfied over numerous synthesizing of compounds, the team discovered the candidate compound, aripiprazole. It was able to stabilize effect on the nervous system by suppressing dopamine activity when excessive and stimulating it when dopamine activity is low.
This led to a drug development which was eventually launched in the US in 2002 and became a blockbuster product after only three years on the market. It was also launched in Japan as a treatment for schizophrenia in 2006. An additional indication was approved in January 2012 for treatment of manic symptoms of bipolar disorder. Also noteworthy is that in November 2007, aripiprazole was the first antipsychotic drug in the world to obtain an indication for the adjunctive treatment of major depressive disorder in US.
Nobuyuki Kurahashi, Vice President, Global CNS Business, Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. explained, “Dr. Ohshiro incorporated ‘safety’ in the drug design from the very beginning. When aripiprazole was introduced to the market, these excellent ‘safety’ properties earned widespread praise from doctors, families, and patients. Also because of this feature, aripiprazole has been used for so many patients and so many diseases beyond the conventional drug category. Ever since I joined the company, it has brought me great honor to be involved with this drug, from its initial discovery through to its market launch worldwide.”
Seiji Sato, Ph.D., Senior Researcher, First Institute of New Drug Discovery, Medicinal Chemistry Group, “Failure is common in our field, drug synthesis. The hard work is tackled first. You are constantly aware of the obstacles that you have not been able to overcome in the past, and you keep trying over and over again to overcome those challenges because beyond them lies success and you will discover new findings along the way. Partial agonists are at first glance a difficult concept to believe in. I think Dr. Oshiro’s courage in taking that first step to tackle this concept, as well as the strength of his conviction, were the driving forces behind this achievement.”
All this would not be possible without the support and encouragement of a strong and farsighted leader. For the steadfast leadership, Otsuka Pharmaceutical President and Representative Director, Taro Iwamoto, Ph.D., was honored with The Distinguishing Service Prize for Employment of Invention.
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In 1971, two innovative young Americans founded Pharmavite; the following year they developed the vitamin brand Nature Made® committed to providing high quality vitamins and supplements to retail markets for people who want to lead healthier lives. The original Pharmavite commitment has not changed for over 40 years. Today, Pharmavite LLC is one of the largest US manufacturers of high-quality vitamins, minerals and other dietary supplements, and Nature Made® is the #1 selling national vitamin and supplement brand in traditional retail scanning outlets. Pharmavite LLC has been a subsidiary of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. since 1989.
Pharmavite’s new facility in Opelika sets a new standard for manufacturing excellence. The facility is designed to produce the highest quality products, featuring state of the art technology and will be the first major vitamin facility in the US to be LEED certified.
As, the US dietary supplement market has tripled since 1995, the Opelika facility is a key part of Pharmavite’s strategic plan to meet the growing global consumer demand for health and wellness products like Nature Made supplements. It also serves as a showcase of our passion for quality, efficacy and innovation.
The company supports research with major universities on vitamins and supplements. Supporting this research is consistent with Pharmavite’s vision of “Inspiring the healthiest you through more complete nutrition wherever you are in life”.
This new facility in Opelika is the first dietary supplement facility in Alabama, a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. The production capacity will meet the company’s forecasted future growth. As part of the facility, Pharmavite has created an educational tour that it will be sharing with the community.
It is Pharmavite’s intention to provide these products globally in addition to the United States, so the new facility will contribute to people’s better health around the world.
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On June 7 and 8, 2013, at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, in Rancho Mirage, California, American President Barack Obama held a bilateral meeting, followed by a working dinner, with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China. Ridge Vineyards 2008 Geyserville Zinfandel was served with the main course – the Porterhouse steak.
Dinner diplomacy of course requires world-class cuisine, but the culinary merit of each menu item is not the sole consideration; each dish has political significance. Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, a French diplomat at the time of the Napoleonic Wars, emerged victorious from the negotiations at the Congress of Vienna due in no small part to the wines of Chateau Haut-Brion and the grand cuisine of legendary chef Marie-Antoine Carême. There is no question that Ridge Vineyards 2008 Geyserville was carefully chosen as a representation of America's influence.
China has experienced rapid and continuous economic growth, and has passed Japan to become the world's second-largest economy, after America. China is becoming a leader in both the importation and production of wine as well. It is significant that the red wine served to China's leaders was a Zinfandel-based blend. There are many American wines that are more expensive than Geyserville, such as Cabernets from Napa. A Zinfandel was likely chosen because it is a distinctly "American" variety, one that symbolizes an America that has become the world's dominant power and that has carved out its own unique position in the world, while still retaining its connections to the culture and traditions of Europe. Ridge Vineyards was acquired by Otsuka Pharmaceuticals in 1986 and is honored that, out of all the Zinfandels available, Ridge Vineyards 2008 Geyserville was chosen to represent America at this dinner.
Celebrity chef Bobby Flay, the owner and executive chef of several restaurants, including Mesa Grill, was chosen to represent America in the preparation of the meal itself.