PICTURES to Pills

Japanese multinational photography and imaging company Fujifilm develops drug to fight Ebola

World-renowned Japanese photography and imaging company Fujifilm, made headlines when they announced their latest discovery in August this year. Many would have expected it to be the unveiling of their latest high-tech camera or photography equipment but on the contrary, the discovery was a new drug, Favipiravir, to aid in combating the deadly Ebola virus.

Toyama Chemicals, a subsidiary company of Fujifilm, is credited with making this discovery. Takao Aoki, a Fujifilm representative stated that since Ebola and influenza viruses are similar, theoretically the same effects could be expected on Ebola. The Japanese government has approved the drug to be used against Ebola but the efficacy of the drug is yet to be tested on either monkeys or humans. Favipiravir is currently in clinical test in United States with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and discussion on its usage on Ebola patients is still on going.

One might wonder on the reasons for Fujifilm to venture into a totally different field but the flexibility of the highly reputable Japanese company is set to benefit them in a number of ways. It is only a matter of time before Fujifilm starts to milk profits from its diversification. Since the announcement, their shares went up to 8.83% and with the majority of the Japanese population aged 50 and above, the pharmaceutical sector is expected to see continued growth.

Instead of competing within one’s market, Fujifilm took the more challenging route of developing new products and businesses. Mr Shigetaka Komori, CEO of Fujifilm commented on their expansion, saying, “We have more pockets and drawers in our company”. Fujifilm’s diversified business now carries a range of products from different markets such as anti aging cream, medicine, dietary supplies, cosmetics, radiography film and equipment as well as mammography appliances.

Many other multinationals have also started to be proactive by expanding into different markets. Sony, which is often associated with electronic goods have begun to cater to the demands of medical science with their new cell analysis device used in cancer and stem cell research. Similarly, Panasonic, one of the largest Japanese electronic producers, has also tried its hand at medical machinery with its brainchild, a robot called HOSPI. That transports medicine from one place to another within the hospital. Taking this a step further, Japanese multinational and engineering company, Toshiba opened their own hospital in central Tokyo equipped with its own brand of machinery and equipments.

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