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As well as being more than a year behind global rivals in developing COVID-19 vaccines, Japanese drugmakers are scrambling to catch up with international competitors in their search for brand new medicines for the disease, highlighting the country’s uphill battle toward gaining the upper hand over the pandemic.

In November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted emergency use authorization to antibody therapy bamlanivimab, developed by an American drugmaker Eli Lilly, marking the world’s first approval of a new drug specifically developed to treat COVID-19. The same month, the FDA also gave the green light to an antibody treatment developed by U.S. biotech firm Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.

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