Background and Challenge

An American specialty pharmaceutical company believed that there was significant opportunity in Japan for its drug that was still in clinical trials. However, the pharmaceutical company lacked a presence in Japan, and required a partner for market access and success. Company executives engaged L.E.K. Consulting to define the market potential in Japan and provide a fact base to support its partnership search and negotiations.

Approach and Recommendations

We leveraged its experience in Japan’s clinical practice, reimbursement and commercialization environments to develop a detailed assessment of the market potential and strategic implications for the drug asset. Although the our team was based in Japan, there was close coordination with senior partners based in America to provide added support for the U.S.-based client. Key project activities included:

  • Profiling and evaluating the epidemiology, lines of therapy and unmet needs for the indications under study
  • Assessing the fit and expectations relative to existing treatment paradigms
  • Identifying expected reimbursement scenarios and assessing the requirements for price optimization
  • Drafting a set of revenue projections, including strategic scenarios for capturing additional share

Our strategic assessments and forecasts provided company management with clear insights into Japan’s market dynamics and outlined key requirements of a partner. Once the target of potential partners was identified and evaluated, We maintained an active advisory role in partnership negotiations, including defending the revenue forecasts. The client appreciated the representation by our team, often in native language, and our commitment to their objectives.


With broad-based local support from our team, the client successfully established a partnership with a Japanese specialty pharma company with a strong presence in the target indications. We played an integral role in securing high upfront and milestone payments, and tiered double-digit royalties with a fixed transfer price. The partner company announced plans to begin Japan-based clinical trials this year.

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