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An Interview with Kabir Nath, Otsuka North America Pharmaceutical Business Division: ‘We Continue to Identify New Treatment Advances of High Clinical Value’


“By encouraging our scientists to challenge accepted approaches, we have delivered breakthrough medicines to people with urgent unmet needs.”

At first glance, the future of mental health can seem disheartening. Depression is currently the most common mental disorder, with 300 million people affected globally. The World Health Organisation expects that by 2030 depression will have become the largest single healthcare burden, costing $6 trillion globally. For perspective, that’s roughly equivalent to the total global healthcare spend in 2012.

Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd. researches, develops, manufactures, and markets pharmaceutical products for the treatment of diseases and consumer products for the maintenance of everyday health in regions around the world. The company focuses on a portfolio of products in neuroscience, oncology, cardio-renal, and medical device markets, as well nutraceutical products. It offers pharmaceutical products, including tablets and injections and conditioning agents; and medical devices, including urea breathe test devices and kits. Its North American affiliates are responsible for these activities in that region.

Kabir Nath, Otsuka North America Pharmaceutical Business Division President and CEO, Otsuka America, Inc., spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Why was the company set up? How did you select the vertical and decide to be a part of the global platform?

Otsuka has been on a journey of creativity and innovation for more than 95 years. During this time, we have discovered and developed treatments for central nervous system disorders, cardiovascular and digestive diseases, cancer, respiratory and dermatology conditions and provided a range of clinical, nutritional and diagnostic products. From our early beginnings in Japan, Otsuka has grown into a global business with an international network of over 150 companies and more than 40,000 employees across Asia-Pacific, North America, Europe, and the Middle East.

In the U.S., Otsuka focuses its creative energy and innovative ability on three main therapeutic areas: neuroscience, oncology and cardio-renal. Our aim is to help people with diseases that range from affecting millions to those that affect relatively few.

Q. What were the grounds on which you have expanded your company and its offerings over the years?

Our core commitment is to provide innovative therapies and appropriate support for people affected by mental health disorders and their families. Great perseverance by our scientists for more than two decades led to the successful creation of the world’s first atypical antipsychotic drug, which provided a new treatment for individuals living with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and major depressive disorder.

By encouraging our scientists to challenge accepted approaches, we have delivered breakthrough medicines to people with urgent unmet needs. By collaborating with other companies, affiliates, academia and advocacy groups, we have connected healthcare communities, shared knowledge and created tools and resources to address some of the greatest healthcare challenges of our times.

Q. What do you feel are the reasons behind your consistent growth as an organization?

We believe in challenging the norm and taking innovative approaches to create new medicines. That drive has helped us develop transformative treatments for patients within several disease areas: oncology, nephrology, cardio-renal and, especially the central nervous system (CNS) with a focus on mental health. Nearly 2,000 employees strong in the U.S., Otsuka is striving to improve the health of millions of Americans and patients worldwide.

Q. If you have to list five factors that have been/are the biggest assets to your organization, what would they be and why?

LONG-STANDING COMMITMENT AND PROVEN EXPERIENCE IN CNS: Otsuka’s commitment to providing innovative solutions for mental health disorders for patients and their families began more than 30 years ago. From the early days of aripiprazole (ABILIFY®) to our most recent approvals in the world’s first-ever digital medicine (ABILIFY MYCITE®), we have persevered in finding novel solutions for the mental health community through quality collaborations. By encouraging our people to think unconventionally in medical areas where there are unmet needs, we have delivered innovative products for patients in our key therapeutic areas of interest.

PERSEVERANCE TO ADDRESS UNMET NEED: We continue to identify new treatment advances of high clinical value, avoiding the development of ‘me-too’ products. As a company, we don’t follow the crowd; we don’t just rely on computers for answers – we persevere, trying new avenues until we reach our goals.

UNCONVENTIONAL THINKING: We believe in thinking differently and in challenging the norm, which drives us to do better than before. By encouraging our people to think unconventionally in medical areas where there are unmet needs, we have delivered innovative products in our key therapeutic areas of interest.

COLLABORATION & DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT: We form alliances and collaborate with patients, caregivers, providers, advocates, educators, innovators and a variety of diverse entities to make a difference for patients and the world. We believe in thinking differently and in challenging the norm, which drives us to do better than before. We are willing to challenge established ways of thinking and avoid standard approaches.

As well as the diversity of thought, we strongly believe in cultural diversity in our workforce. Otsuka-people come from all parts of the world and various professions. What matters most to us is that our people believe in the Otsuka philosophies and values, and have the creative and innovative qualities that we cherish. If you have what it takes to succeed at Otsuka, we provide the environment and the encouragement to do so.

AMERICAN PRESENCE WITH A JAPANESE HERITAGE: ‘Jissho’ (Self-actualization) and ‘Sozosei’ (creativity), which pervade everything we do, reflect our Japanese heritage. In other words, we encourage our people to push themselves to consistently do remarkable things that lead to achievement, completion and the discovery of truth. Our nearly 2,000 U.S.-based employees are encouraged to push themselves to consistently achieve remarkable things to support patients, colleagues and our community. This commitment is built on our Japanese corporate heritage and the backing of one of the most respected organizations in Japan.

Q. Do you have any new products ready to be rolled out into the market?

Otsuka is at the cutting-edge of the new frontier science of digital medicine, developing wearable and ingestible technologies. In late 2017, we received the first-of-its-kind FDA approval for a digital medicine product, ABILIFY MYCITE® and are now in the process of bringing this new medicine to eligible patients with serious mental illness. The introduction and access to this first-ever digital medicine marks an exciting milestone for our organization and the employees who contributed to its development, as well as to patients, physicians and caregivers who seek innovative solutions to serious mental illness.

Q. Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

Otsuka is committed to being a leading innovator in drug discovery and technology solutions that can improve health outcomes for people living with serious mental illness. In doing so, Otsuka’s commitment to digital medicine represents a milestone in our desire to move to a new generation of promise and possibilities. In addition, we are dedicated to further developing therapies in the renal space and most recently launched JYNARQUE® (tolvaptan), which provides a treatment option that was not available before in the US for a rare renal disease.

Otsuka is dedicated to developing breakthrough therapies and contributing to the future of medicine. As a company, we don’t just follow the crowd or look to established processes for answers. We persevere, trying new avenues until we reach our goals. In all of our activities, we’re driven by a commitment to creating new products for better health worldwide.

Our employees are at the helm of this mission and the patients we humbly serve are at the core. We are honored to devote our corporate lives to helping others.

Leadership | Otsuka North American Affiliates

Kabir Nath, President/CEO, Otsuka North America Pharmaceutical Business Division, Otsuka America, Inc: Kabir Nath is a senior commercial leader with more than 25 years of broad international biopharma and devices experience who has shaped strategy and delivered results in complex, challenging business environments at country, regional and global levels. Mr. Nath joined Otsuka to head the North America Pharmaceutical Business Division in March 2016.


William H. Carson, A.B., M.D., President/CEO, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development & Commercialization, Inc: Dr. William H. Carson is responsible for leading the company that develops new products and solutions, as well as creating strategic plans for the company’s product portfolio to ensure development programs meet quality and safety standards required by medical and regulatory agencies.

“At Otsuka, our people are passionate about developing and delivering original products as part of a global holistic commitment to better health and well-being.”