Taiho goes global

How Japan's Taiho plans to expand in West using late-stage cancer compounds

Taiho Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. has embarked on a five-year plan to expand into Western markets using its late-stage chemotherapeutics as a beachhead for the company's pipeline of novel cancer candidates, including at least one that will begin Phase I testing in the U.S. next year.

Though perhaps better known in Japan for its energy drinks, including flagship brand Tiovita, Taiho also has established a strong commercial presence domestically based on the success of its 5-FU-based chemotherapies.

The company has made forays internationally, including satellite offices primarily focused on clinical development. However, with relatively flat sales over the last several years, Taiho's new president decided to build a commercial infrastructure in the U.S. and Europe in search of future growth.

In parallel, Taiho has shifted its focus towards targeted cancer agents, and last fall unveiled the first seven early stage programs to emerge from its in-house discovery.


Founded as a manufacturing company within the Otsuka Group in 1963, Taiho's first oncology effort was initiated four years later by then-President Yukio Kobayashi.

The first products to emerge were injectable and oral formulations of tegafur, a prodrug of the antimetabolite 5-fluorouracil (5-FU) marketed as Futraful beginning in 1974. These were followed by several more tegafur-based chemotherapeutics introduced over the next two

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