A health ministry panel is urging small drugmakers to merge with their bigger counterparts to ensure a stable supply of generic drugs in Japan amid an ongoing shortage.

In making the call in a report released on Wednesday, the panel noted that the inefficiency of the present situation, in which each company produces small quantities of a wide range of products stemming from a background of many drugmakers entering the generic drug market all at once.

In fact, around a quarter of the companies in the industry that primarily manufactures generic drugs each produces more than 51 products.