Our bioprocess business is built on the manufacturing and marketing of the world’s first cellulose filter designed specifically for virus removal in biotherapeutics. It was developed through a combination of hematological know-how and membrane separation technology leveraging the Asahi Kasei Group’s state-of-the-art technology platform.
Commercialized under the name Planova, our virus removal filters are used in the manufacture of biotherapeutics, such as biopharmaceuticals and plasma derivatives. In the early days, the business struggled to achieve profitability, but we carried on in response to the critical needs of customers and at the behest of regulatory authorities. It was not long before Planova filters became widely adopted by manufacturers of plasma derivatives and biopharmaceuticals, achieving the global reputation for excellence they enjoy to this day. With the establishment of Asahi Kasei Bioprocess, we are expanding our business as a strategic growth driver for the Asahi Kasei Group’s medical enterprises.
In the latter half of the 1980s, incidents of people contracting HIV, HCV and other viral infections from blood plasma derivatives created a social consensus that called for greater drug safety and spotlighted the need for antiviral measures at the manufacturing stage. Against this background, our Planova products have played a key role in raising biotherapeutic safety by effectively removing viruses during the biopharmaceutical production process.
In modern healthcare, medication is the first-line treatment for many diseases and usually meets with the least psychological resistance from patients. In this sense, pharmaceutical safety underpins trust in healthcare itself.
At the same time, the ready availability of quality drugs at reasonable prices can be seen as one key index for judging healthcare standards. Strict and effective quality assurance in pharmaceutical manufacturing processes is an essential condition for the mass production and market penetration of safe, high-quality, reasonably priced medicines. By the same token, it contributes to fair and full access to healthcare treatment.
Through our Planova virus removal filters and related products, we help to ensure that patients can receive safe drug treatment with confidence, and that drug makers can uphold their products’ reputation. In this way, we deliver value in the form of support for society’s trust in and expectations for healthcare.
Thanks to the high reputation of our mainstay Planova virus removal filter products, more than 90% of our sales are in markets outside of Japan. In this sense, we are at the forefront of the Asahi Kasei Group’s increasingly global business configuration. Moreover, while maintaining our focus on our consumables, with their strong competitive market position, we are transforming our business to obtain greater sales from systems. Our 2010 purchase of the bioprocess equipment business of US company TechniKrom marked a key turning point, with the business operating under the new name Asahi Kasei Bioprocess, Inc., enhancing our ability to provide integrated solutions for biopharmaceutical manufacturing. We will continue to expand as a solutions-oriented business, providing technical services to pharmaceutical companies beginning at the planning stages for the manufacture of new drugs.
The shift to a solutions-based business model has been made possible by our emphasis on direct communication with our clients. This style of sharing awareness of the latest issues and responding rapidly with meticulously attentive support means that we have a firm grasp of actual needs and are well prepared to take effective action. Moreover, we have strengthened our training and support capabilities to develop local personnel who can respond to clients’ on-site requirements, resulting in a high reputation for the quality of our customer relations. Based on our perception of market trends that we gain via these efforts, we are pressing ahead with a dynamic expansion and strengthening of our presence through both M&A and further leveraging of group resources.
Currently we are expanding our bioprocess business centered around Planova brand products with a focus on European and North American markets for original pharmaceuticals. Our innovative technology enables accurate removal of viruses based on filter pore size, and has earned high acclaim in biopharmaceutical manufacturing processes which require extensive quality assurance measures using sophisticated technology. Because such processes tend to have unique configurations that are not amenable to easy substitution, we are required to ensure a stable supply of filters over extended periods measured in years, a responsibility which we are proud to bear.
Our business supports improved safety by removing viruses in the sequence of biopharmaceutical manufacturing processes that lead from refinement and purification to the final product. The precision of virus removal performance demanded is extremely high and is of a standard that can only be achieved with the rigorous quality assurance that we are able to maintain in Japan. While we are striving to make Planova precision virus removal systems more widely available and wish to expand our business into emerging markets in the areas of plasma derivatives and biosimilar products, we are not willing to lower our standards of safety and quality to do so. Rather, we will raise our competitiveness by adding value by other means, such as enhancing Planova product performance and offering even more responsive technical support.
Even in the midst of a global economic slowdown, biotherapeutics are exhibiting steady growth. The market for products used in biopharmaceutical manufacturing processes continues to expand, especially in the area of monoclonal antibodies. Aligning our bioprocess business with this powerful trend, we are spearheading the growth of the Asahi Kasei Group and its medical enterprises.
For information about our products and systems for biopharmaceutical manufacturing, please access the resources below.