Japan Tobacco, who has had a pharmaceutical research division for more than 25 years, had its hopes dashed earlier this week when Switzerland’s Roche Holding AG decided to drop support for the Japanese company’s latest cholesterol medication. Japan Tobacco has long dreamt of breaking into the big leagues of manufacturing pharmaceutical medication. Especially in the U.S. market, where sales would almost guarantee success.
The company believed they would be on their way in the early ’90s when they created a drug called dalcetrapib that would increase “good” cholesterol levels. But after almost a decade of human testing, Roche Holding, who had licensed the sales rights for outside of Japan, declared that the drug had not proved efficient in clinical tests. This was the start of a series of fruitless attempts to find a successful medication that could be taken by humans.
However, it looks like Japan Tobacco is about to give it another try, as out of six drugs still in development, one has been seen as having promise in fighting the AIDS virus. Elvitegravir will be part of a four-drug mixture used as anti-AIDS medication that Gilead Sciences Inc. has planned to sell in the U.S. Already having been submitted, the Food and Drug Administration will give their preliminary opinion on the four-drug mixture this Friday, but the final decision won’t be made until August. It looks like Japan Tobacco will have their fingers crossed over the summer months.