Week 8: アベノミクス (Abenomics)


While most of what my research project has discussed is about Japanese healthcare as it is now, I now want to look at what it looks like for the future. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, through his “Abenomics” economic reform, is doing a lot with so little. He already has “fired” two of the “arrows” that are part of his plan, but his third one is of most significance. Mainly, Abe wants to deregulate industries, including the Japanese pharmaceutical industry, which is dominated by drug companies such as Astellas, Takeda, Otsuka and Eisai, in order to bring forward more generic drugs. Since Abe is attempting to revitalize the Japanese economy, it makes sense that he would go after healthcare. After all, there’s very little spending on it anyway in Japan. But some, especially pharmacists and pharmaceutical companies, are concerned that placing an emphasis on generic drugs will decrease competition, as well as research and development. The Japanese government has also stated that pharmacists, who usually get a commission for sales of more expensive brand-name drugs, will get partially subsidized in order to counter the loss in profit from generic drugs.

This week’s vocabulary:
医療制度 (いりょうせいど): health care system
The Japanese health care system has gotten bad as of late. After Abenomics, what kind of health care system will it turn into?

保健所 (ほけんしょ): health care center
I’m always tired, but I got some good advice from the health care center about that.

ジェネリック医薬品 (いやくひん): generic drug
Why are generic drugs so cheap? The branded ones seem to work better. Perhaps.

処方 (しょほう): prescription
So, for your pneumonia I’ve prescribed penicillin. Please go to your pharmacist.

研究開発 (けんきゅうかいはつ): R&D, research & development
She’s not an “office lady.” She’s the chair of research and development at a good pharmaceutical company.

I know this topic is a lot more political in nature than the previous ones I’ve looked at on this portfolio, but it’s still a very important one, because it’s a potential way that Japan could fix its healthcare system. With these Abenomics reforms, Shinzo Abe has started to transform not just the Japanese economy, but also the Japanese healthcare system, because his goal to revitalize both is to increase expenditure. This is in spite of the fact that he’s implicitly discouraging competition with a new focus on generic drugs. In spite of their low-expenditure system, which I have been looking closely at since this portfolio started, I’m still surprised they’re going through with this sort of thing. It could not come at a better time, however, as next week I’ll look even deeper at the effects of Japan’s aging population on its healthcare system.

Other sources on the subject:


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