Eisai Korea, the Korean unit of the Japanese pharmaceutical company, has chosen Chong Kun Dang as a partner firm to sell dementia treatments.
The two companies recently signed an agreement to jointly sell Aricept (ingredient: donepezil hydrochloride) and Aricept Evess.
Chong Kun Dang will focus on sales and marketing for clinics, and Eisai Korea, for general hospitals.
Aricept, one of the popular dementia treatments, sells more than 70 billion won ($65.3 million) a year in Korea.
Why did Eisai seek partnership with Chong Kun Dang to promote the drug that is already selling well, then?
Industry watchers said it was because Chong Kun Dang, armed with good sales power among clinics, has become an active player in the dementia medicine market with its Gliatilin agent, a cognition-enhancing therapy.
Eisai Korea has about 100 salespersons, and half of them are responsible for Aricept sales.
As 50-60 employees of Eisai Korea have to sell Aricept to all medical institutions across the nation, Eisai’s sales power at clinics is relatively weak.
Thus, Eisai wants Chong Kun Dang to concentrate on sales for clinics, and use its salespersons to focus on large-scale clients such as general hospitals and nursing hospitals, observers said.
“We don’t have many salespersons across the country. Our company seems to have designated a partner firm to let salespersons focus more on large clients,” said a marketing staff at Eisai Korea.
Combined sales of Aricept and Aricept Evess rose from 65.2 billion won in 2015 to 71.1 billion won in 2016, but slightly fell to 71 billion won in 2017, according to data from IQVIA.
The total revenue size has enlarged to more than 70 billion won, but the sales growth recently stagnated due to arrivals of generic drugs.
Large pharmaceutical firms released many Aricept copies. They include YuYu Pharma’s Donemin Tab., Daewon Pharmaceutical’s Daewon Donepezil HCL, Samjin Pharm’s Neutoin, Jeil Pharm’s Donepin, and Daewoong Pharmaceutical’s Donep.
Eisai must have needed a shield to win the competition against the generic drugs, observers said.
Chong Kun Dang, owning the cognition improvement drug Gliatilin, should be the right partner for Eisai, they added.
“A foreign firm needs a partnership with a local company with competitive sales capacity,” an industry executive said. “The deal between Eisai and Chong Kun Dang is likely to create synergy effects.”