Our apheresis business grew out of the Asahi Kasei Group’s dialyzer business, leveraging our state-of-the-art membrane separation and adsorption separation technology platform combined with our extensive hematological knowledge.
We began developing our apheresis technology in the latter half of the 1970s with a simple plasma exchange membrane that separates blood cells from plasma for the treatment of acute liver failure (fulminant hepatitis). In the mid-1980s we went on to develop the world’s first plasma component separator and plasma adsorption technology that could selectively adsorb and remove pathogenic substances. This progress in apheresis technology greatly expanded the variety of conditions that could be treated. With the revision of Japan’s Pharmaceutical Affairs Law in the early 1990s, the value of apheresis grew as a novel alternative therapy for intractable diseases.
We make and market a range of apheresis products used to treat more than 30 disorders covered by Japan’s national health insurance. Today our apheresis products hold the top market share both at home and abroad. This is a prime example of how the Asahi Kasei Group’s medical enterprises are creating value by finding answers to unmet medical needs.
Apheresis represents a novel therapeutic direction that holds great promise for effective treatment of intractable diseases that do not respond adequately to drugs or other conventional medical treatments. In contrast to drug treatment which is “additive” in nature, apheresis is in principle a “subtractive” therapy. During extra-corporeal circulation, the patient’s blood is filtered to remove excessive or unwanted substances, then the purified blood is returned to the body.
Because this subtractive therapy seeks to preserve the body’s essential functions by returning blood in nearly the natural state, apheresis is known to have few side effects. Therefore, it offers hope as a therapy not only for intractable diseases, but also in cases where exposure to drugs must be restricted, as in the case of pregnant women, infants, young children and the elderly. Preventive medicine is another area where apheresis has potential. As these products receive acceptance for a wider range of applications, patients gain options for treatment. In this way, we are bringing hope to patients everywhere who stand to benefit from apheresis.
For such a promising therapy, apheresis has yet to receive the recognition it merits. Apheresis will become established only when it is known to and chosen by doctors and patients. Therefore, we are working to raise awareness of apheresis therapy and expand therapeutic opportunities by supporting the introduction of equipment and technology. In this way, we are helping to make apheresis available as a therapy for intractable diseases to as many patients as possible.
We have developed a variety of products that apply our world-leading membrane separation and adsorption separation technologies to apheresis therapy. While compiling further evidence of therapeutic efficacy, we are working to bring this advanced Japanese treatment technology to the attention of the wider international medical community. Although awareness and availability of apheresis as a treatment for intractable diseases varies depending on national and local circumstances, we are working to make this valuable therapy an option for patients who need it around the world.
In some cases, apheresis is a life-saving emergency procedure, as in the case of acute renal failure. It can also be used to treat chronic cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurological, and other conditions. We aim to further expand this subtractive therapy’s uses to include palliative medicine and preventive medicine. As we pioneer new areas where apheresis can be effective, we will continue to offer patients more treatment options through new product developments and enhanced support services.
Despite the progress of modern medicine, there are more than 100 disorders for which effective treatments have not been found. Today, countless people around the world are still contending with the pain and suffering of diseases that cannot be treated adequately using current medicinal or other therapies. Through the Asahi Kasei Group’s apheresis products and expertise we offer these patients and their families hope of new treatment options for improved health. This is our mission as we see it.
Building on the foundation of experience and expertise of the medical enterprises of the Asahi Kasei Group, our sights are set on contributing to a better future for people around the world by expanding the availability of new and proven therapies for intractable diseases.
For literature and other information about our therapeutic apheresis products, please access the resources below.