Otsuka Podcast

The latest news from Otsuka's global team of professionals working to create new products for better health worldwide.
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Now displaying: 2016

Welcome to Otsuka Podcast, featuring stories of change from Otsuka Pharmaceutical's global team.

Please visit us at for more stories and to see the photos and videos that accompany these episodes.

Nov 30, 2016

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In September of 2016, Otsuka Pharmaceutical and RIKEN opened the RIKEN CDB-Otsuka Pharmaceutical Collaboration Center (COCC) inside the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (RIKEN CDB), which is located in the city of Kobe. The COCC will be involved in collaborative developmental biology and regenerative medicine research projects with the goal of investigating disease mechanisms and discovering new

drugs and therapeutic applications. The purpose of the COCC is not only to make new discoveries through such collaborative research projects, but also to train the next generation of scientists by hosting joint seminars and offering opportunities for personnel exchange.

In connection with the opening of the COCC, the first steering committee meeting was held on September 6 at Otsuka in Tokushima to discuss the Center’s plans for collaborative research, information exchange, and personnel exchange. The RIKEN CDB Director, Hiroshi Hamada, M.D., Ph.D., presented a brief

overview of RIKEN and the research in which it has been involved, and the RIKEN CDB Team Leader, Minoru Takasato, Ph.D., gave a presentation on kidney regeneration research using human-derived cells, which led to an animated discussion with Otsuka researchers.

RIKEN CDB is a world-class research institution for basic research in the field of developmental biology and regenerative medicine. RIKEN has recently become known for its participation in the first clinical research in the world on the use of iPS cells in age-related macular degeneration, which has become an increasingly common cause of blindness in recent years.

The COCC will be involved in joint research projects aimed at developing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases and kidney diseases, which have been important areas of research for Otsuka.

Nov 1, 2016

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Otsuka Pharmaceutical and NEC Corporation have partnered to jointly develop a smart medicine container that will help ensure that patients do not forget to take their daily dose of anti-stroke medication. Otsuka has experience with patients who have suffered one or more strokes through its involvement in the research, development and marketing of blood-thinning drugs, and NEC has many years of experience in miniaturized wearable technologies, sensing technologies, and human-centered design. The combination of two companies’ abilities should therefore make it possible to develop a smart medicine container that will be easy for patients to use.

This container will use a flashing LED light to inform patients that it is time to take their medication. When a patient removes a pill from the container, the time will be recorded in the container’s memory. The container is also equipped with an Internet-of-Things-type function for transmitting

this information to smart phones or tablet devices so that the patient and/or the patient’s family will be able to monitor the patient’s pill ingestion, and also so that pharmacists will be able to use this information when giving the patient instructions on the proper use of the medication.

The daily use of blood-thinning drugs is critical for the prevention of stroke recurrence. However, there have been reports of treatment adherence as low as 50% within half a year of starting treatment because patients forget to take their medication or stop doing so without their physician’s consultation. Antiplatelet treatment maintenance is therefore a significant issue.

Oct 4, 2016

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In support of 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, the official drink POCARI SWEAT was provided to 46 stadiums including Incheon Asiad Main Stadium for players. 15,000 players and staff from 45 Asian countries participated in the competition, and POCARI SWEAT united Asia's diverse cultures into one.

To support this event, Dong-A Otsuka mobilized nearly all its staff to support athletes’ rehydration by providing POCARI SWEAT on site. They also managed various fun filled POCARI SWEAT activity booths across the venues, such as history zone, sampling zone and sports experience zone.

POCARI SWEAT also became the official drink for Indonesian athletes this year.

POCARI SWEAT provided Indonesian athletes with development funds, uniforms for the Indonesian contingent for Asian Games 2014 and SEA Games 2015 and invited sport science experts to educate the coaches of Indonesian Athletes.

This partnership between National Sports Committee of Indonesia (known as KONI) and PT. Amerta Indah Otsuka will run for five years. “We will be consistent in doing these activities as an effort to support the Indonesian sports achievements” said Mr. Yoshihiro Bando, President Director of PT. Amerta Indah Otsuka.

In addition to providing support for top athletes, Otsuka Pharmaceuticals was also involved in activities to nurture the next generation of athletes and promote the culture of sports.

Children from Japan and South Korea participated in this program in which 11 elementary school athletes from Iwate Prefecture in Japan’s Tohoku region was chosen to experience the world-class atmosphere of Asia’s largest sports event.

Sep 15, 2016

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Otsuka Sims (Guangdong) Beverage Co., Ltd. has been sponsoring the annual POCARI SWEAT 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament since 2006. The aim of the tournament, in which teams of 3 compete, is to encourage consumers to develop and maintain healthier bodies through exercise and good hydration habits. 

At the start of each summer's team recruitment drive, basketball fans from many regions of China, including Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, have come to Foshan to participate in the POCARI SWEAT Battle of the City Heroes. The POCARI SWEAT 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament has developed a strong reputation and become recognized and respected among the sporting community.

Compared to last year, this year's tournament added 2 more divisions totaling 8: Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Dongguan, Jiangmen, Foshan and Huizhou. Also this year, the number of cities holding competitions increased to 8, the number of teams increased from 600 to 912, nearly one thousand athletes increased adding up to 3,648, and the number of spectators increased from 7,000 to about 9,000.

Each year, the previous year’s champion team is invited to appear in the tournament poster.

This year’s media coverage has included the Shenzhen Entertainment channel, Jiangmen Xinhui channel, Huizhou news channel, Guangzhou TV news channel, which will report on and broadcast the competitions in their respective cities.

The company has been hosting this tournament for 11 years. During this period, it has broadened publicity for POCARI SWEAT and heightened consumers’ interest and understanding of the product. The tournament has increased the public's faith in and goodwill toward Otsuka and established in the minds of consumers a brand image for POCARI SWEAT as a new awareness of ion supply drink.

Aug 24, 2016

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A portion of our activities dedicated to reducing bias among the general public about nerve and mental diseases has won the Bronze for the Pharma category of Lions Health at the 63rd Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the most prestigious international award for creativity.

The activity which was awarded the Bronze uses the booklet “Connect Pen & Notebook” as a way to raise awareness of diseases. The product was designed and produced by TOPPAN PRINTING CO., LTD.

The booklet conveys that nerve and mental diseases, similar to some other diseases, are organ diseases affecting the brain and are caused by malfunctions in the interconnections in the brain.

The pen captures the general public’s interest and encourages them to read the booklet contents. It does this by connecting electric circuits in the booklet to mimic the connections in the brain. LED lights are thereby lit by drawing with the pen, which uses ink that conducts electricity.

Part of the circuits were hand-made by patients who aspire to be employed. This tool is used in university courses related to healthcare and has resulted in students having improved understanding about, and impressions toward, these diseases.

Otsuka Pharmaceutical will continue to carry out activities to dispel negative images of diseases by deepening awareness of them.


Jun 7, 2016

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Otsuka Pharmaceutical participated in the Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) Fund as an associate partner on June 7th, 2016. GHIT Fund was established in April 2013 as the world’s first product development fund specialized in Global Health through partnerships with the public (i.e. Japanese government), private, and civil sectors (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, etc.).

GHIT Fund contributes funds to research and development of pharmaceuticals or diagnostic products, etc. targeting the three major infectious diseases, HIV, tuberculosis and malaria; and neglected tropical diseases mainly prevalent in developing nations through utilization of the high standard technologies and innovations created in Japan.

In 3 years, over 60 projects were approved and over US$60 million has been invested. Of these projects, 7 have proceeded into the clinical development stages. It was announced during the G7 Ise-Shima Summit that an additional 130 million dollars would be invested to this foundation as a commitment of the Japanese government to global health.

Otsuka Pharmaceutical has challenged to overcome difficult global health problems and have been devoted to developing original, innovative products aimed at solving unmet medical needs. Given its long-term commitment, R&D investment, of over 30 years in the field of tuberculosis, it has successfully created a new anti-tuberculosis agent, delamanid, for the first time in approximately half a century. Our participation in GHIT Fund is anticipated to be highly valued as a further effort for our company in global health.


Earlier this year, Otsuka Pharmaceutical co-sponsored the 3rd Nikkei Asian Conference on Communicable Disease held in Tokyo.

A discussion on the theme “Japanese initiatives through new public and private cooperation” was held on cooperation between government and private sectors in regards to global expansion especially in Asia of Japanese technology conducive to managing infectious diseases.

Masuhiro Yoshitake, the Global Project Leader of TB Projects from Otsuka Pharmaceutical, presented the approval application status of delamanid, in each country and reported that cooperation between government and private sectors are essential within the international framework for global expansion of delamanid.

At the end of the conference, Dr. Shigeru Omi, Regional Director Emeritus for the World Health Organization Western Pacific Region, gave a summary “Tokyo Infectious Disease Statement 2016” in regards to recommendations based on this conference and challenges for the next year. He agreed that this will lead to future activities in both Japan and overseas.

Through participation in this conference, our company has been made aware of greater need for cooperation between government and private sectors in order to deliver our company’s creation, delamanid, to patients.

Originally published at:

May 16, 2016

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Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc. hosted a special screening of the first-ever documentary film on living with PseudoBulbar affect (PBA), “Beyond Laughter and Tears, A Journey of Hope”, during the American Psychiatric Association (APA) annual meeting in Atlanta on May 16, 2016.

The documentary was created by Avanir Pharmaceuticals, Inc., an Otsuka subsidiary, in order to “shine a spotlight on PBA and the vast community it impacts, hopefully creating a greater awareness of PBA that may inspire people who suffer from this condition or their loved ones to seek help,” according to the website devoted to the film,

PBA is a neurologic condition characterized by uncontrollable, sudden outbursts of crying and/or laughing that don’t match what a person is feeling on the inside. Approximately 2 million Americans may suffer from PBA.

PBA occurs when certain neurologic conditions or brain injuries damage areas of the brain involved in crying and/or laughing. Because PBA is a prevalent, yet under-recognized and undertreated condition, Avanir is bringing together the mental health community to raise awareness of PBA and how it affects patients’ lives.

Beyond Laughter and Tears is the first documentary film to examine the daily struggle of Americans who live with PBA. It chronicles the lives of six people dealing with PBA, a secondary condition prevalent among people who have experienced a traumatic brain injury, stroke or certain other diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. To the six cast members, finally getting a diagnosis meant so much to them. Each of them talked about wanting to help others with PBA because they had so much trouble getting a diagnosis themselves.

Apr 21, 2016

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Mr. Bob Oliver, president & CEO of Otsuka America Pharmaceutical, Inc., (OAPI), served as the keynote speaker and honoree at the 3rd Annual Top Blacks in Healthcare Awards Gala held in spring this year in Baltimore.

The Gala, hosted by, a leading online health destination for African Americans, and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Disparities Solutions, is held each year to honor and recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to health and medicine.

"'s Top Blacks in Healthcare is a very important event in the Black community because it gives us a chance to recognize African-Americans who have achieved a high level of success and understand the importance of reaching back to serve as positive role models for others,” said Mr. Reggie Ware, CEO,

One person who couldn’t agree more was Mr. Oliver’s son, who greeted his father with a hug as he left the stage and whispered, “Dad, you did awesome!” And the audience agreed.

Mr. Oliver, who has worked at OAPI since 2010 said, “I am honored to be a part of such an esteemed group working collectively to address healthcare disparity in America - a growing and costly problem that has surpassed US $30 billion in preventable cost per year. We must solve together. I am equally proud of Otsuka - people who embrace diversity, hire and develop talent, and strive earnestly every day to create healthier communities around the world.”

During his tenure at OAPI, Mr. Oliver and his teams have been instrumental in introducing a diverse portfolio of marketed products, and helping to guide the development of pipeline products, across the neuroscience, oncology, and medical device markets. Mr. Oliver is also passionate about education, and served as chairman of the board for Eastern University Charter Academy School in the state of Pennsylvania, ensuring educational opportunities are provided to at-risk children.

Apr 20, 2016

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The Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology awarded Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. two commendations for Science and Technology in Tokyo, Japan.

One of the prizes for Science and Technology, in the Development Category, was for the research and development of delamanid. It is an effective treatment for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis. The other prize was for the development of tolvaptan, an antagonist of the vasopressin V2 receptor.

The commendations were presented in late spring in a ceremony held in the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology.

Each year, 9.6 million people are newly infected by tuberculosis (TB). Of these cases, 480,000 patients develop multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB). And in that group, 22% develop extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB). There have been no new anti-TB drugs developed since the introduction of rifampicin over forty years ago.

Senior director of the Pharmaceutical Business Division, Mr. Makoto Matsumoto, Ph.D., said, “Delamanid was approved as a new drug for the first time in approximately 40 years. However, many besides those being awarded this time contributed their efforts and cooperation during the approval process, which took over 20 years.”

He continued to thank, “all those who were involved from the discovery and development of delamanid to the approval of the drug. Otsuka will continue its efforts to increase the number of patients using the drug, and will continue contributing to tuberculosis treatment worldwide.”

Delamanid was approved in Japan, Europe, and Korea in 2014. The commendation was awarded to delamanid for its contribution to the medical care of TB, by addressing the pressing need for new effective treatments to the increasing occurrence of MDR-TB.

A doctor looking for a drug that helped his patients excrete only water unlike other diuretics inspired Otsuka Pharmaceutical to start researching for an agent to do just that.

It was discovered that this vasopressin V2 receptor antagonist may hinder the proliferation and enlargement of the cysts in the hereditary disease Autosomal Dominant Polycystic Kidney Disease (ADPKD).

Otsuka subsequently played a pivotal role in the clinical development of tolvaptan for ADPKD, and it is presently the only treatment option known to delay the long-term progression of ADPKD.

“I heard that this award commemorates ‘people’ who make achievements, and I am deeply moved by the fact that my life’s work involving the discovery and development of tolvaptan, which I spent 30 years on, has been recognized,” said Mr. Yoshitaka Yamamura, senior director of the Pharmaceutical Business Division.

“The ‘rugged’ drug discovery we started from scratch is now contributing to patients daily, and I am sincerely proud of that fact. I hope that new drug discoveries will be made for drugs that ‘originate in Tokushima and are the world’s first’.”

The commendation was awarded to tolvaptan for its contribution to the medical fields of heart failure and liver cirrhosis, as an agent with a new mode of action of water diuresis, as well as the only treatment option known to delay the long-term progression of ADPKD.

Apr 19, 2016

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Otsuka and the Stop TB Partnership’s Global Drug Facility (GDF) announced a worldwide access plan for delamanid, one of only two medications approved to treat multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in the last 40 years.

The GDF is the largest supplier of quality assured TB treatments in the public sector, which gives it a unique position to catalyse uptake and expedite access to patients living in countries where TB medications are urgently needed. Launched in 2001 by the World Health Organization (WHO), the GDF was created out of a need to build an efficient system of procurement and distribution of high-quality TB drugs. Apart from procurement, the GDF provides a unique package of services, including technical assistance in TB treatment management and monitoring of TB drug use.

This innovative partnership with Otsuka opens access to over 100 low- and middle-income countries that are eligible for financing through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria and that follow WHO guidelines for the proper management of MDR-TB. As part of this partnership, GDF will also include delamanid in their Strategic Rotating Stockpile to ensure treatments get to people in need as quickly as possible. Apart from establishing a formalized partnership that ensures the supply of delamanid, Otsuka and GDF will work together to support communities with education, training, technical assistance, and TB advocacy activities.

Access to a reliable supply of high quality drugs is of great importance, as patients can develop TB drug resistance as a result of poor quality drugs and unreliable supply channels. Widespread drug resistance complicates and lengthens treatment, and as the disease is airborne just like other types of TB, it poses a major public health risk. Nearly half a million people each year develop MDR-TB and of those diagnosed and enrolled in treatment, only 50% are successfully treated.

This partnership is a key component of Otsuka’s wider strategy called the “FightTBack” initiative to scale up programmatic use of delamanid and fight TB through innovative R&D, ensuring responsible access to patients, optimizing patient management, and collaborative capacity building.

In line with its philosophy of addressing unmet medical needs, Otsuka is currently testing the first-ever pediatric MDR-TB formulation. Otsuka is continuing its research into innovative ways to fight TB, including development of mobile health technology for patients to receive treatment reminders on their smart phones and involvement in multiple research partnerships looking at shorter, more efficient and more patient-friendly ways to fight MDR-TB.

Feb 20, 2016

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The Otsuka Museum of Art hosted the sixth Sistine Kabuki production – Yuriwaka Daijin: Ulysses – for 3 days, beginning on February 20, with two performances each day. As has been the case in past years, tickets sold out almost as soon as they went on sale. The performances were attended by 2800 persons from across Japan.

Incorporating Technology in Kabuki
The stage for this year's production was set up in the style of an arena, with elevated walkways leading off in all four directions. The stage was lit in various colors using blue light LED technology, made famous recently as the invention that received the Nobel Prize in physics last year. This year's performance was notable for the singing and dancing elements, which are not usually seen in kabuki, and for the use of slang words in the spoken dialogue, which drew cheers from the audience.

"Sistine Kabuki" productions are based on the themes of Japanese-Western collaboration and the creation of innovative kabuki theater. The current production – Yuriwaka Daijin: Ulysses – is a completely new work, a fusion of Greek mythology and traditional kabuki theater based on the tale of Yuriwaka Daijin, which is considered an ancient Japanese retelling of the Odyssey, the epic poem attributed to Homer.

Kazuo Mizuguchi returned as producer and director, and Kanjuuro Fujima returned as choreographer, and they collaborated with the Chinese opera performer Zhang Chunxiang to create a kabuki performance with musical accompaniment that incorporated both kabuki movements and Chinese opera-style percussion instruments. The presence of Yuuga Yamato, a former star of the Takarazuka Review theater troupe in Japan, playing two roles, one Eastern and one Western, was also a topic of great interest.

The protagonist, Yuriwaka Daijin, was played by Ainosuke Kataoka, making his fourth appearance in a row in Sistine Kabuki performances, and the roles of Princess Tachibana and the goddess Calypso were both played by Yuuga Yamato, making her first appearance. The roles of Takahime (the Spirit of the Hawk) and Hidetora's older sister Matsugae were both played by Kichiya Kamimura, who has appeared in Sistine Kabuki performances since their inception, and the role of Hidetora Ichiro was played by Tanenosuke Nakamura.

After the first performance, Ainosuke Kataoka said "I have sung in Sistine Kabuki productions before, but this year I was nervous singing because of Ms. Yamato's presence," and Yuuga Yamato said that "I had thought that only men appeared in kabuki, and I had played male roles before when I was with Takarazuka, but I was really grateful for the opportunity to appear in a kabuki production."