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Oishi Koseido’s pain relief patches: an alternative to opioid treatments

Article - August 23, 2019

Oishi Koseido has recently received U.S. FDA approval for its ‘ZTlido’ 1.8% lidocaine patches and is confident its high-quality, Japanese-made pain relief treatments could help in the fight against opioid addiction in the U.S.


Established in 1907, Oishi Koseido has been a reputed and trusted manufacturer and supplier of pain relief patches in the Japanese market for 112 years. Now, as the company approaches its milestone 70th year as a corporation in 2020, it is going global and recently won FDA approval in the United States, where it believes its adhesive transdermal pain relief patches could help to tackle the growing opioid addiction crisis.

Japan has long been a user of the pain relief patch, whose main advantage over orally-taken or injected pain-relief medicine is that the medication is absorbed at a constant and steady rate. For a time all patches in Japan were non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs; that was until Oishi Koseido introduced the use of lidocaine, thus creating a new category of pain relief patches.

In 2018, the company took its first real steps into the U.S. market by successfully gaining approval for its ‘ZTlido’ (lidocaine topical system) 1.8% patches, which are distributed by Scilex Pharmaceuticals. While ZTildo 1.8% was not the first or only lidocaine- based patch to be introduced on the American market, it was a pioneering product whose advantages lied in its efficiency, strong adhesion properties and ability to administer pain relief over a longer period of time.

“The topical patch containing lidocaine already marketed in the U.S. had up to 700mg of lidocaine, but was only able to deliver 3(±2)% of it resulting in immense waste. We were able to produce patches of only 36mg with the same effects as those with 700mg from the competition. We were broadly recognized for this new technology and its implementation,” explains company president, Ryoji Nonaka.

“ZTlido’s strong adhesive power makes it possible to for the medication to be distributed over a longer period of time. Furthermore, with only 36mg of Lidocaine in ZTlido 1.8%, our new product containing 108mg per patch might open the door to more effective use in the pain reliever area.”


OK’s patches as answer to opioid epidemic

ZTlido 1.8% is used to treat pain associated with post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), but moving forward, Oishi Koseido wants to introduce more of its innovative and highquality pain relief patches, which it believes could be an answer to the opioid addiction epidemic.

More than 130 people die from opioid overdoses per day in the United States, making misuse and addiction to opioids a serious national emergency that affects public health, not to mention the social and economic costs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that opioid addiction costs $78.5 billion a year, which includes the costs related to healthcare, lost labor productivity, addiction treatment and criminal justice.

As transdermal patches such as those developed by Oishi Koseido do not contain opioids and deliver medication over a long period of time, they could be used as an alternative to opioid treatments, thus reducing the risk of opioid addiction.

“Our patches can offer a great alternative to pain relief treatment with opioids and we are currently in talks with several companies other than in the U.S. that see the advantages in our products,” explains Mr. Nonaka.

“We believe there is a lot of good that we could do for the world. One example is our solution to the opioid crisis and our employees are extremely motivated to help solve it. For this we are working to further expand the distribution of our products in the U.S. as a pain management solution. Moving forward we would also like to look for partners in Europe and Asia.”


Domestic market changes fuel global expansion

Oishi Koseido’s ability to position itself for global expansion has come on the back of major changes to the domestic market in Japan, where the government has drastically increased expenditure in healthcare and is promoting the use of generic branded products as a cheaper alternative to other medication.

As a result of the government approach to push generic options in the healthcare market, Oishi Koseido has seen its revenues grow significantly; enabling the pharmaceutical firm to enter the ranks of medium-sized companies with an annual turnover of 10 billion yen (approx. $90 million).

The revenue boost has allowed Oishi Koseido to significantly ramp up investment in R&D for new products, human capital, as well as in a new factory, which it established last year. And such growth will provide the foundations for its rapid global expansion over the coming decades.

“Japan entered the new Reiwa Era on May 1, 2019, and similarly we are entering a new global era, where we hope to continue manufacturing and developing high-quality products that satisfy the needs of clients around the world,” says Mr. Nonaka.

“At Oishi Koseido, we continue to create social value by contributing to health promotion through trustworthy pharmaceuticals. And this will be our guiding principle for the next 100 years.”