Regulation and Procedures Governing Approval of Medicinal Products in Japan
In order to market any medical products in Japan, a company must comply with numerous and varying regulatory requirements in Japan regarding quality, safety and efficacy in the context, among other things, of clinical trials, marketing approval, commercial sales and distribution of products. A person who manufactures or markets medical products in Japan is subject to the supervision of the MHLW, primarily under the Act on Securing Quality, Efficacy and Safety of Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices (Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Act). This entails the satisfactory completion of pharmaceutical development, preclinical studies and adequate and well-controlled clinical trials to establish the safety and efficacy of the medical product for each proposed indication. It also requires the filing of a notification of clinical trials with the Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency (Japan) (PMDA) and the obtaining of marketing approval from the relevant authorities before the product can be marketed and sold in the Japanese market.
Under the Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Act, a person is required to obtain from the MHLW a marketing license in order to conduct the business of marketing, leasing or providing medical products that are manufactured (or outsourced to a third party for manufacturing) or imported by such person.
Also, in order to conduct the business of manufacturing medical products which will be marketed in Japan, a person is required to obtain from the MHLW a manufacturing license for each manufacturing site.
Under the Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Act, it is generally required to obtain marketing approval from the MHLW for the marketing of each medical product. An application for marketing approval must be made through the PMDA, which implements a marketing approval review.
Under the Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Act, it is required to file notification of clinical trials with the PMDA. Also, the data of clinical trials and other pertinent data, which must be attached for an application for marketing approval, must be obtained in compliance with the standards established by the MHLW, such as GLPs and GCPs stipulated by the ministerial ordinances of the MHLW.
Regulatory Requirements after Marketing Approval
A marketing license-holder that has obtained marketing approval for a new pharmaceutical must have that pharmaceutical re-examined by the PMDA for a specified period after receiving marketing approval. Such re-examination period for VYVGART is stated to be ten (10) years after the marketing approval in January 2022. The purpose of this re-examination process is to ensure the safety and efficacy of a newly approved pharmaceutical by imposing on the marketing license-holder the obligation to gather clinical data for a certain period after the marketing approval was granted so that the PMDA has the opportunity to re-examine the product. Results of usage and other pertinent data must be attached for an application for a re-examination. A marketing license holder that has obtained a marketing approval is also required to investigate, among other things, the results of usage and to periodically report to the PMDA pursuant to the Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Act.
In Japan, public medical insurance systems cover virtually the entire Japanese population. The public medical insurance system, however, does not cover any medical product which is not listed on the National Health Insurance (NHI) price list published by the Minister of the MHLW. Accordingly, a marketing license-holder of medical products must first have a new medical product listed on the NHI price list in order to obtain its coverage under the public medical insurance system. The NHI price list listed VYVGART in April 2022.
The NHI price of a medical product is determined either by price comparison of comparable medical products with necessary adjustments for innovativeness, usefulness or size of the market; or, in the absence of comparable medical products, by the cost calculation method, determined after considering of the opinion of the manufacturer. Prices on the NHI price list will be subject to revision, generally once every year, on the basis of the actual prices at which the medical products are purchased by medical institutions.