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Major Japanese medical partnership

Major Japanese medical partnership
Product:Safety device for prefilled syringes
Targets:Pharmaceutical & medical device companies
Result:Distribution agreement with Nipro

Major Japanese medical partnership

Our brief for British medical devices firm Owen Mumford was to promote its newest safety syringe product, Unisafe, in Japan.

The product was a unique, springless syringe for the self-injection market that would enhance both safety and the user experience. And our goal was to attract interest from Japanese pharmaceutical companies and other relevant players in the injectable drug space.

Two-fold approach

Our initial approach was two-fold: to approach Japan’s foremost pharmaceutical companies, and to facilitate Owen Mumford’s exhibition at the Interphex Japan biotech trade show.

A big show is always a great opportunity to meet and impress prospects, so for Interphex, we assembled a team with detailed knowledge of the drug industry and Japanese language skills to support their presence on the booth. And through our direct engagement efforts, we generated meetings with 14 prospective customers.

Biggest Japanese manufacturers

It was during Interphex that we met one of the biggest Japanese medical device manufacturers, Nipro. Nipro was impressed by Owen Mumford’s unique product. They saw the product as highly complementary to their pharma packaging business and showed interest in potentially acting as a distribution partner for Owen Mumford in Japan.

Nipro was not the only top syringe manufacturer to show interest in the product, and we quickly found ourselves with two strong candidates to become distributors of Owen Mumford’s product. With other pharma companies also showing interest in the product, Owen Mumford’s project team quickly decided they needed to visit Japan for a second time, two months later.

Acting as Owen Mumford’s official representatives on the ground in Japan, we ran follow-up discussions with the interested parties. And we started the process of qualifying the two candidates for distributorship – one of the key criteria being the ability also to act as Owen Mumford’s regulatory partner.

On-going initiative

At this point, the initial three-month project turned into an ongoing business development initiative, with us facilitating ongoing discussions between Owen Mumford and the two partner candidates. Having qualified both of the opportunities carefully over the ensuing months, we finally determined that Nipro was the most suitable partner for Owen Mumford.This saw us visit Nipro’s facilities in western Japan to meet additional team members, discuss regulatory strategies and sketch out the framework of a commercial arrangement.

Trust and confidence

With our in-depth knowledge of the Japanese medical device regulatory landscape and a strong working relationship with the Owen Mumford team, we were able to win Nipro’s trust and confidence and drive the discussions forward.

It wasn’t long before Nipro decided to visit Owen Mumford in the UK. Then, as the relationship deepened, the companies decided they’d jointly exhibit Unisafe at the next Interphex Japan event.

This field test of the Owen Mumford/Nipro partnership received a great deal of positive feedback from prospective customers during the show.

Nipro had also proven to be a good company to work with, giving us the confidence they were the perfect partner for Owen Mumford.

No walk in the park!

But what came next still wasn’t a walk in the park: we had to negotiate the partnership agreement.

In this part of the process, the biggest challenges revolved around misunderstandings between the two parties or a lack of appreciation of each other’s culture and processes. But by stepping in and assisting with the communication, we were able to iron out the issues and manage expectations. We also leveraged our regulatory expertise to advise on relevant requirements and help both parties reach mutually acceptable terms.


It was highly rewarding to see our efforts result in Owen Mumford and Nipro signing an exclusive distribution agreement for Japan that would really drive forward the sales of Unisafe in the market.

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