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The late chairman of Otsuka Holdings, Akihiko Otsuka (who died in November 2014), has posthumously received the 18th Princess Chichibu Memorial Award for Distinguished Service to Tuberculosis Elimination. This award honors individuals and organizations that have made great achievements in tuberculosis prevention. The ceremony was held on February 27, 2015 at the 66th national convention of the Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association, and Otsuka Holdings Vice Chairman Ichiro Otsuka accepted the award in place of the late Chairman Akihiko Otsuka.
The Japan Anti-Tuberculosis Association holds a national convention every year on March 24, World Tuberculosis Day. In addition, at the bequest of Princess Chichibu, who served as president of the Anti-Tuberculosis Association for more than half a century, the Princess Chichibu Memorial Tuberculosis Prevention Awards were established to memorialize her name and to honor individuals and organizations from Japan and abroad that have made significant contributions to tuberculosis prevention. Each year, on the day of the national convention, the awards are presented with Her Imperial Highness Princess Akishino, association president in attendance.
During the 1960s, when the tuberculosis epidemic in developed Western countries subsided, interest in development of anti-tuberculosis drugs withered rapidly even though the disease continued to spread in developing countries. Akihiko Otsuka, who became president of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. in the 1970s, realized that tuberculosis was the most serious among Asian health problems, and concluded that the development of more powerful anti-TB drugs was of critical importance for Asian pharmaceutical companies. Following the founding of company's first drug R&D lab in 1971, he overcame company-internal resistance to make significant investments over the next 30 years as the company continued R&D on anti-TB drugs.
As a result, Deltyba® (delamanid is the generic name) was discovered in 2002, and went on to receive regulatory approval in Japan and Europe in 2014 as a new anti-tuberculosis drug. This innovation arrived 40 years following Rifampicin, the first anti-tuberculosis drug, and 55 years following the discovery of kanamycin in Japan in 1958. The development of delamanid, a drug that has shed considerable light on the treatment of previously intractable multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, and which has significant future potential in the treatment of this serious medical condition, was a manifestation of the company leadership's clear intent and strong mission.
Otsuka Holdings Representative Director and Vice Chairman Ichiro Otsuka commented, "On the occasion of receiving of this prestigious award, I extend my heartfelt thanks on behalf of my late father. We are gratified that it is useful for the treatment of patients around the world who suffer from multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, as this is a fulfillment of the Otsuka Group's corporate philosophy to contribute to the health of the world's people."
Otsuka Pharmaceutical has launched a new anti-tuberculosis drug in Japan and Europe for treating multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, which is a public health issue that has become a global threat. In the future, we will continue working to achieve our long-term goal of worldwide elimination of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis.