Anticancer Drug Prescription Patterns in Japan: Future Directions in Cancer Therapy

Shoyo Shibata, Maiko Matsushita, Yoshimasa Saito, Takeshi Suzuki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Despite their benefits, the rapid development of new cancer treatments has been a significant driver of increasing health care expenditures in the face of limited health care budgets. In this study, we analyzed the prescribing trends for anticancer drugs from 2010 through 2016 in Japan and sought to identify unique trends that could provide a basis for future medical economic research aiming to develop more efficacious and cost-effective cancer therapies. Methods: We used publicly available marketing data for anticancer drugs in Japan for 2010-2016. The drugs selected for this research were categorized according to the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical Classification System. We investigated the overall anticancer drug market size, the number of anticancer drugs, the top 30 selling anticancer categories, sales and prescription volumes, and changes in sales and prescription volumes between 2010 and 2016 in the country. Results: The anticancer agent market expanded each year from 2010 to 2016, with sales exceeding 1 trillion yen in 2015. The proportion of molecular targeted drugs (antineoplastic mAbs and protein kinase inhibitors) among the top 30 selling anticancer categories has continued to increase, and both the sales and prescription volumes of these drugs exceeded those of drugs in other categories, suggesting that these treatments play a dominant role in cancer pharmacotherapy. Conclusion: The availability and increasing use of innovative but more expensive targeted therapies were major drivers of increases in pharmaceutical expenditures for cancer treatment in Japan. Therefore, the effective use of genetic testing can mitigate these rising costs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)718-723
Number of pages6
JournalTherapeutic Innovation and Regulatory Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov 1


  • Japan
  • drug development
  • oncology
  • prescription monitoring
  • unmet medical needs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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