本文轉載自2022/02/08 Taipei Times
- Astellas Taiwan sets its sights on new treatments
TRANSFORMATION: The firm is also encouraging more openness between management and staff in the hopes of generating innovative ideas, its general manager said
- Kao Shih-ching / Staff reporter
Astellas Pharma Taiwan Inc (台灣安斯泰來) aims to focus on new areas, such as oncology and diseases that do not have standard treatments, to enhance its competitiveness in the fast-changing pharmaceutical business, general manager Eiji Nakane told the Taipei Times in a recent interview.
Mr. Nakane took the post at Astellas Taiwan in April last year, after serving at the headquarters of its parent company, Astellas Pharma Inc, in Japan and its branches in Europe and the US.
Astellas is an international pharmaceutical company and ranks second by market share in Japan.
Astellas Pharma Taiwan Inc general manager Eiji Nakane poses for a photograph in an undated photograph.
Photo courtesy of Astellas Pharma Taiwan Inc
“Over the next three years, my core mission is to redirect the local unit’s focus to oncology and other specialty diseases, and to ensure a smooth transformation by maximizing the value of new products and near-term pipelines,” Mr. Nakane said.
The transformation is essential for Astellas to gain new momentum, Mr. Nakane said.
Having existed since 2005, Astellas Taiwan has produced some famous products for the local market:Prograf, which helps prevent organ rejection in people who have had a kidney, liver or heart transplant; Xtandi, a treatment for prostate cancer; and Betmiga, a treatment for overactive bladders, Mr. Nakane said, adding that the three products contribute the most revenue for Astellas Taiwan.
Since cancer is life-threatening and transplants involve major surgery, doctors and patients are willing to choose the drug with the best efficacy and credibility, even though it costs more than a generic drug, Mr. Nakane said.
Prograf and Betmiga are the most prescribed drugs in their respective areas in Taiwan, he added.
Asked whether Astellas would focus on Stilnox, one of its best-known drugs, Mr. Nakane said that the drug is very mature.
Taiwanese consume 120 million sleeping pills on average per year, and Astellas’ Stilnox is one of the most frequently prescribed drugs, National Health Insurance Administration data show.
Stilnox was launched many years ago, so it has entered into the middle or late stage of its life cycle, Mr. Nakane said.
To gain new momentum, Astellas Taiwan launched Xospata, a treatment for acute myeloid leukemia in December 2020, and the drug’s sales have grown greatly, Mr. Nakane said.
Besides adjusting pipelines, Astellas Taiwan would also utilize technology to enhance its business, as patient centricity and digital transformation are critical if the company is to realize its ambitious goals, Mr. Nakane said.
“Last year we launched a project to evaluate the pain points of our key external stakeholders and diseases we focus on, and to develop ideas for digital solutions. We will see how the project goes and tweak it this year,” Mr. Nakane said.
Astellas Taiwan is also adjusting its corporate culture to encourage openness between management and employees, compared with the top-down system traditionally adopted by big corporates, Mr. Nakane said.
“My belief is that leadership is about openness and [mental] agility. I always encourage all employees to come to my office and share their ideas, questions and thoughts with me. Astellas is currently working on its cultural transformation, and I think flat, or interactive, communication is the most powerful approach to shaping innovative ideas,” Mr. Nakane said.
He said that his office door is always open unless he is in a meeting.
“For decisionmaking, leaders should actively embrace different opinions and make a clear decision swiftly, because business moves fast and is becoming more complicated in a rapidly changing world,” Mr. Nakane said.
Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity are the words the company uses to remind employees how unpredictable the world can be, and why they need to have diverse perspectives and take a proactive approach to discussions, he said.
As Astellas is an international company, and more than half of its employees are from countries other than Japan, multiculturalism is vital, Mr. Nakane said.
He shared how he addressed the issue while he served in the company’s units in Europe and US.
“Transparency and integrity are essential factors when dealing with multicultural communication in a global company. I share the company’s goals, corporate strategic direction and the background of these goals with all employees, so that the team can work together toward the goals despite their cultural differences,” Mr. Nakane said.
“In a multicultural workplace like that of Astellas, people need to keep in mind that we are all different and respecting each other is important. Any kind of difference should not be a reason for conflict,” he said.
As for the local unit, although most employees are Taiwanese, they could still help globalize the unit as they are highly educated and have experience working or studying abroad, Mr. Nakane said.
Taiwan has a healthy pharmaceutical market, with solidly built infrastructure such as information databases and data exchange mechanisms, and there are no fundamental differences between the regulations in Taiwan and those in other markets, Mr. Nakane said.