Otsuka People Talk

October 2016

Product Management Manager, Pharmaceutical Business Division

I am confident that I am capable of leading the way for others, without first being told what to do.

An interview with the man who had an idea to communicate with physicians differently and succeeded.

A Career in the Life Sciences

I majored in Biochemistry at university. When it came time to choose a career, I was positive I didn't want to work in sales. At the time, however, it was hard to find a research position, so I decided to join a pharmaceutical company because I knew I wanted to work in life sciences.

Promotion to Central Nervous System Area Manager

At first, I did promotional work for gastrointestinal drugs and antibiotics. I would do tests to identify bacteria and find out what spectrum antibiotic would have what kinds of effects . . . things like that; being able to predict the results, and following the whole process through until the final results were obtained, with precision. I have always liked doing things systematically.

One day, I was told that I would be specializing in the central nervous system from that point on. At first, I thought that working on central nervous system drugs would not suit me, I suppose because I thought that mental illnesses are not so easy to quantify mathematically: in this field, treatment results vary widely depending on the patient's condition and lifestyle, and it's often the case that a drug you think should work based on the data doesn't work. It might work really well in one patient, but not at all in another patient.

However, something happened that really grabbed my interest. I had been working on a new central nervous system drug that wasn't really getting any traction and that wasn't being received well by doctors. It turned out that there was a certain trick to how the drug had to be used, and that its benefits weren't being realized when it was just used by doctors in the old way they were used to.

When I talked to the doctors about it, I discovered that there was a difference between the doctors who rated the drug highly and those who did not. The difference lay in how they were using the drug. When I started promoting the method of use that had been being used by the doctors who rated the drug highly, their patients started getting better, and I started getting excited about educating doctors how to use this drug.

This was exciting because it made me realize that if drugs are not promoted properly, they cannot be expected to fulfill their promise - that is, if the marketing is done properly, it is possible to change how doctors perceive the drugs.

I had personally discovered something that I was able to use to educate others and effect change, and I was able to see the results of my actions with my own eyes.

Why I Joined Otsuka

I first worked at a different company. One day, I started thinking about the efficacy and side effects of a new antipsychotic that had been launched by Otsuka, as well as the way doctors were being informed about this new drug, and I thought "This is how I want to do it!" I had the chance to talk with the manager of this product, and I told him how I felt. This conversation resulted in my coming to work at Otsuka, and I am still working on this drug even now.

My Actions Can Serve as a Guide for Others

My managers have listened to my opinions, many of my ideas have been adopted and implemented, and I have been able to see our systems and methods change as a result. My managers have supported my attempts to implement improvements. I have of course also encountered some resistance, but the only thing you can do is to keep moving forward, even if the road ahead is difficult, and overcome the obstacles together.

When a new drug is launched in Japan, it may already be on the market in the United States or Europe. One advantage of marketing a global product is that you can use examples of successful marketing techniques and improvements that have been used in the countries in which the drug is already on the market. However, this is not as simple as it sounds. Meeting the potential needs of each country requires dedication and extensive research. The information that is gathered through this research needs to be understood from many different perspectives.

Future Goals

The treatment of central nervous system diseases is moving to the next level. I will have to utilize the experience that I have gained to date while also tackling new challenges. However, I believe that we are currently at an important juncture for helping patients with psychiatric illnesses, as well as their families, and I intend to continue trying to identify situations where Otsuka's products are indispensable. In order to make this happen, however, our organization needs to be stronger. We need to train our young employees, the next generation, to create strong teams rather than just relying on our own individual strengths. If we are able to do this, then we will be able to accomplish great things.