The government plans to give the nation’s anemic pharmaceuticals industry a shot in the arm next year by boosting support by 80 percent so companies can better compete on a global scale, officials said Tuesday.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry will hike budget requests to 8.3 billion yen in fiscal 2007 to assist the beleaguered drugmakers, officials said.

Pharmaceutical companies here are lagging behind their U.S. and European peers in drug development, which tends to require huge amounts of time and investment.

Even Japan’s largest drugmaker, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., couldn’t dent the global top 10 list for 2003. Its sales came to about one-fifth those of Pfizer Inc. of the United States, the world’s largest.

U.S. pharmaceutical companies have been steadily expanding their scale through mergers and acquisitions, giving them greater sales and more scope for spending on research and development. The major companies have now reached the point where they are outspending their Japanese counterparts by about five times on R&D.

In Japan, where free-wheeling M&A activity is frowned upon, developing a single drug requires more than a decade, as well as an R&D investment of between 15 billion yen and 20 billion yen, a ministry official said.

The ministry expects domestic drugmakers to be more aggressive in consolidating their capital ties and to converge into three key groups — one that will compete in the global market for new drug development, one that will manufacture and sell generic drugs, and a third that will produce drugs for sale at prescription and nonprescription drugstores, the official said.

In June, the government unveiled a blueprint for economic growth strategy that calls for helping Japanese drugmakers break into the world’s top 10.

In line with this blueprint, the ministry has drawn up plans in its budget requests for fiscal 2007 to expand the network of hospitals tasked with conducting clinical tests for newly developed medicines.

The programs also call for encouraging more use of cheaper generic medicines, which are reportedly used by less than 10 percent of the populace in part because business-minded doctors are reluctant to offer them.

A senior ministry official said these programs “will help people to have greater opportunities to use newly developed medicines and limit their expenditures for medical care on the basis of the greater use of generic medicines.”

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