We believe the Otsuka group is obligated to provide higher-value products and services to our customers by engaging in suitable and legally compliant promotions and advertising and communicating with customers in an appropriate manner.
Approach in Pharmaceutical Business
The Otsuka group has expanded on the JPMA Promotion Code for Prescription Drugs—a code of behavior for healthcare professionals— to formulate its own Code of Practice at each of the group companies in an effort to engage in appropriate collaboration based on relationships of trust with all stakeholders, including medical practitioners. Given that the clarification of relationships between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare organizations is a matter of social responsibility, we are striving to ensure adherence to standards in order to fulfill our responsibility as a pharmaceutical company and ensure the practice of proper medical care based on ethics and a patient-oriented commitment. Furthermore, in addition to abiding by legislation in each country, for example in Japan, Japan’s Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices Act (PMD Act), we engage in quality control and post-manufacturing safety control in accordance with GQP*1 and GVP*2 standards, report to the regulatory authorities, and develop and revise various documents. And we have established a system that allows us to constantly perform pharmacovigilance (PV*3) on a global level to collect and assess product safety information, including side effects. In this way, we continue to swiftly provide the results of our monitoring to medical institutions etc. To make sure these activities continue without a hitch, we also implement training every year for relevant personnel. For example, at Otsuka Pharmaceutical, in addition to the aforementioned training, the company conducts annual training related to PV for all employees based on the thinking that every employee is accountable for ensuring the safety of our pharmaceutical products.
*1 Good Quality Practice
*2 Good Vigilance Practice
Measures against counterfeit drugs
Counterfeit drugs* have become an issue for the international community. Not only do they fail to provide the expected therapeutic effect, but they put the patient’s health and life at risk. In combatting counterfeit drugs, the Otsuka has launched a global product security team (which also involves overseas group companies) to prepare for the structure to deal with countermeasures. Collaborating with market surveillance agencies, industry bodies, and governments, we are making an effort to ensure patient safety and to make sure its pharmaceuticals reach the hands of its patients through the appropriate distribution channels that guarantee product quality.
* Any pharmaceutical product that deceptively represents its authenticity or origin, such as drugs that do not contain the ingredients shown on the label or those that contain active ingredients other than those shown on the label.
Approach in Nutraceutical Business and Consumer Products Business
In similar fashion to the Pharmaceutical Business, we have established a dedicated unit comprising multiple departments to review marketing plans and sales promotion materials for products in our Nutraceutical and Consumer Products businesses. This ensures that our marketing and sales promotion activities are appropriate and comply with laws and regulations.
Moreover, Otsuka Pharmaceutical, which develops products that deliver health value based on scientific grounds, has established an “Scientific Affairs Department” to gather and disseminate information about products, related knowledge, and the latest academic information. This department also holds monthly information sessions for employees.
Communication with patients, medical professionals, and customers
The Otsuka group recognizes that enhancing mutual communication with customers and responding to their opinions with sincerity further improves the value of our products and by extension, contributes to people’s health, our society, and local communities. In 2018 we published our “Declaration of Customer-centric Commitment” to clearly express our stance on undertaking such initiatives.
In the Pharmaceutical Business, in order to minimize problems and risks associated with product quality, safety, and usability experienced by patients and healthcare professionals The Otsuka group CSR: Society alike, we periodically share the details of inquiries, specific opinions of users, and product safety information with our sales staff, safety control departments, and quality assurance departments. We also analyze the inquiries we receive from customers and take steps to improve our products. To provide an example, Otsuka Pharmaceutical received inquiries about its Meptin aerosol inhaler used to treat asthma attacks. It was discovered that the product failed to spray or function properly mainly because foreign substances were entering the inhaler through the mouthpiece and the dose counter would not tick over when the user failed to press down far enough. As a result, we made changes to the product’s labelling and made improvements to its internal structure.
In the Nutraceutical Business, dedicated departments for each product line at each of our group companies handle customer inquiries and hold periodic employee training sessions focusing on related laws and regulations. The inquiries and opinions of customers are also submitted to the relevant departments as feedback and reflected in future product developments and improvements. For example, Taiho Pharmaceutical adopted new specifications to reduce the sharpness on the edges of individual cases and exterior cardboard packaging for its Tiovita series so that customers would not cut their fingers when opening the product.
As for inquiries about defective products, returned items are analyzed by our quality control departments and compared with other products in storage. We then consider countermeasures in light of the reason for the defect.
The Otsuka group makes every effort on a daily basis to conscientiously and swiftly respond to customer inquiries and feedback in a manner that is easy to understand. For instance, Otsuka Pharmaceutical is now leveraging the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to provide customers with an even better quality of service. Our AI system offers up common or high-priority responses based on the nature of a customer’s inquiry, which enables our operators to respond more quickly and accurately.