The boycott of Japanese products has been intensifying over the past few months, but sales for ethical drugs manufactured by Japanese pharmaceutical companies have continued to increase.
The sales data is somewhat unexpected as they came at a time where Korean offshoots of Japanese pharmaceutical companies are worrying that the boycott of Japanese drugs, sparked by Tokyo's removal of Korea from the list of trusted trading partners, could spread to prescription drugs.
Korea Biomedical Review analyzed UBIST data of six Japan-based multinational companies in Korea, and found that the outpatient prescriptions amounted 56.3 billion won ($46.5 million), an increase of 17.7 percent over the same month last year and an 18.1 percent increase from June when the boycott campaign began in earnest.
The six Japanese companies are Astellas Korea, Takeda Korea, Eisai Korea, Otsuka Korea, Daiichi Sankyo Korea, and Santen Korea.
Astellas' prescription amount was largest with 18.1 billion won, followed by Daiichi Sankyo 12.8 billion won, Takeda 12.4 billion million won, Santen 6.2 billion won, Otsuka 5.8 billion won, and Eisai 877 million won.
The data reflect the sentiment of doctors that they will not stop prescribing ethical drugs manufactured by Japanese companies because it may affect patient safety.
"It is hard to stop prescribing Japanese drugs. There are many things to consider, such as the absence of alternative treatments and whether the treatment is covered by insurance coverage," a doctor told Korea Biomedical Review on Friday, asking to remain anonymous. "Also, specialists such as doctors and pharmacists are the virtual buyers of such treatment, making it difficult for the patients to boycott such products."
A Japanese pharmaceutical company official also said, "It seems that doctors are not actively participating in boycotts because ethical drugs can be directly linked to the patient's right to health."
He went on to say, “While our company believes that it will not be affected by the boycott as almost all of our products are ethical drugs, it is closely watching the situation as the boycott can hurt our over-the-counter drug sales.
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