firms are developing new drugs, marketing them in the United States, and in some cases licensing them to U.S. companies.15

In the face of such striking differences in industry organization, patent systems, regulation, and medical practices in the two countries, observers point to a "playing field" that is not level.16 The National Research Council's (NRC) working group discussed this issue at some length and concluded that the purpose of this assessment is not to develop recommendations that will create a "level playing field." In view of the significant differences and asymmetries in funding and access to research, technology, and markets, it seems correct to assume that the differences will not be eliminated quickly. Instead of trying to create a level playing field, the more important question is how to compete and win in this context.

Increasing U.S.-Japan technology linkages are part of a global phenomenon. Linkages are affected by capital markets, the macroeconomic environment, scientific prowess, patent systems, and other factors that vary across countries and regions. One interesting question is whether the U.S.Japan linkages are different or generally similar to linkages between U.S. and European firms. Fortunately, the research carried out by members of the NRC working group and others on U.S.-European linkages can be drawn on to set the context and form contrasts and comparisons.17

There is no guarantee that the future will repeat recent experience_that the United States will maintain a competitive edge. New factors that may influence the future development of biotechnology as a global enterprise must be taken into account if the United States is to maintain its position.


Cardizem and Cefobid are among the biggest-selling drugs in the U.S. market. Cardizem, sold by Marion Merrell Dow, was licensed from Tanabe of Japan. Cefobid is marketed by Pfizer under license from Toyama Chemical Company of Japan.


Mark D. Dibner, "Drug Regulation in Japan: Can We Compete on Their Playing Field?" Biopharm, vol. 2, no. 9, 1989, pp. 34–42.


Lois Peters, in a study that focused on relationships between Japanese and European pharmaceutical industries, found evidence of technology transfer from Japan to Europe, particularly through the establishment of laboratories in Japan by European companies. See Lois Peters, "Emerging Private Sector Alliances," in Herbert I. Fusfeld, ed., Changing Global Patterns of Research and Development (Rochester, N.Y.: Center for Science and Technology Policy, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 1990). Note that the data were not disaggregated with an analysis of interactions in biotechnology.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement