COVID, a mixed bag for Japanese medical and health products companies

TOKYO – The year-long COVID-19 pandemic has presented a mixed picture for manufacturers of medical and health products in Japan, as earnings results from companies such as Unicharm, Takara Bio and others revealed last week. large drug manufacturers.

Unicharm, best known for its diapers, on Friday announced a 1% drop in sales for the January-March quarter, while its net profit rose 4.6% from a year earlier. The company is a leading manufacturer of masks and wipes – products in high demand for fighting infections. Unicharm projects net profit of 75 billion yen ($ 690 million) in 2021, up 43% on the year.

While demand remained strong for masks and other hygienic products, such as hand soap, manufacturers of consumer products saw their incomes plummet as people relaxed from last year’s excessive purchases between January. and March.

Lion, which makes famous medicated soap brand Kirei Kirei, posted flat sales of 82.4 billion yen in the January-March quarter of this year, down 0.1% from 2020. Les Kao’s income fell 5% to 320 billion yen during the same period. Sales of Kao’s hygiene-related products fell from the previous year, while its cosmetics business suffered from a shortage of foreign tourists to Japan and the intermittent state of emergency that kept people at home.

COVID-19 has kept health care and hygiene in the spotlight for more than a year. For some companies, profits for the fiscal year ended in March represent the entire pandemic period. Manufacturers of test kits became winners, while drug companies generally suffered as people visited doctors less often for conditions other than the novel coronavirus.

Takara Bio’s sales for the fiscal year ended March jumped 33% from a year earlier to 46 billion yen. Sales of its PCR test reagent have reached approximately 13 billion yen worldwide. “As economic activities pick up, it is natural to assume that there will be a demand for testing as a result, such as events, quarantines and the Olympics,” Koichi Nakao, Chairman and CEO of Takara, said Thursday. Organic.

Another test kit maker, Shimadzu, saw sales climb 2% to 393.4 billion yen in the fiscal year ended March, while operating profit rose 18.9%. This growth has been supported by products related to coronaviruses, including virus detection reagents, automated PCR test systems and x-ray systems for the diagnosis of pneumonia.

“There was a contrast between the companies that increased due to the coronavirus and the companies that declined,” such as the company’s aviation equipment business, President and CEO Teruhisa Ueda said during a press conference. He added that Shimadzu will invest to develop new products related to COVID-19, including tests that can be used to verify the effectiveness of vaccines.

Eiken Chemical’s sales of COVID-19 detection reagents and genetic testing devices also increased significantly, offsetting lower sales of other products. The company’s revenue rose 5.7% on the year to 38.6 billion yen in the fiscal year ended March, while its net profit jumped 42.5% to 5 billion yen. Precision System Science, which sells an automated PCR test system, said on Friday that its revenue increased 103% to 6.8 billion yen between July and March compared to the same period a year earlier.

Large pharmaceutical companies have generally seen their revenues decline during the pandemic, despite efforts to provide vaccines and treatment for COVID-19. Trials of some new drugs have been delayed to minimize the risk of the spread of COVID.

Astellas Pharma sales slipped 3.9% to 1.2 trillion yen from a year ago, ending sales of some products. While sales of major cancer drugs have increased, some have fallen short of expectations as fewer people visited hospitals during the pandemic. Takeda Pharmaceutical’s sales fell 2.8% to 3.1 trillion yen in the fiscal year ended March, but the company said the pandemic had had a limited effect on its profits.

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