Close-Up - Development of Anticancer Drugs

Our Heritage: Taking on the Challenge of Developing Anticancer Drugs to Improve Cancer Treatment Worldwide

  • Taiho's development of anticancer drugs began with the synthesis of Futraful at the Institute of Organic Synthesis in Riga, the capital of Latvia.

Taiho Pharmaceutical’s history of anticancer drugs began with an encounter with Futraful in Latvia.

In 1969, Taiho Pharmaceutical’s first president, Yukio Kobayashi, visited the former Soviet Union for business discussions on Pantocrin, a crude drug formulation for which demand had suddenly started to increase at the time. Kobayashi, who devoted
every spare moment during his time there to visit pharmaceuticalrelated sites, happened to see an injection ampule at a cancer research center in Moscow. It was Futraful, a derivative* of a novel anticancer drug, 5-fluorouracil (5-FU). Guided by intuition, Kobayashi sensed its great potential and instantly decided to conduct clinical trials in Japan. After returning to Japan, he immediately established an anticancer team in the research center to initiate a research program. After confirming the drug’s efficacy in basic research, the drug was taken into clinical trials. However, satisfying clinical results were not obtained, with investigators presenting negative reports on efficacy at the first investigators’ meeting. There was, however, one report that the compound showed efficacy in a patient, and this case became a ray of hope encouraging further research. Research showed that long-term
exposure to cancer cells exerts an anticancer effect even at low blood concentration. This shifted the direction to the development of an oral anticancer agent, a very uncommon formulation in the world at that time. It was then, April 1972, when the possibility created by intuition started moving steadily toward becoming a reality.
*Derivative: A compound created by a change in part of a molecule of a given compound.

Taiho Pharmaceutical’s researchers redefined cancer treatment by bringing small buds of potential to fruition.

The oral anticancer drug Futraful was created in 1974. Unlike conventional anticancer drugs, Futraful enabled outpatient therapy due to its long-term oral administration, later leading to the establishment of the concept of adjuvant chemotherapy.


Futraful capsule 200mg and Futraful injection 400mg launched in Japan

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    The photo shows products at the time of initial launch.

Taiho Pharmaceutical overcame various challenges to create new possibilities.

Ten years later, in 1984, Taiho Pharmaceutical launched UFT, a combination of uracil with Futraful. Having moved forward with research after UFT, in 1999, the company launched TS-1, which combined two new compounds, gimeracil and oteracil potassium, with Futraful, the principal component.


UFT combination capsule T100 launched in Japan

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    The photo shows products at the time of initial launch.


TS-1 combination capsule T20/T25 launched in Japan

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    The photo shows products at the time of initial launch.


UZEL tablet 25mg launched in Japan

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    The photo shows the half-weight type.


TS-1 combination granule T20/T25 launched in Japan

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Taiho Pharmaceutical continues to support the present and pioneer the future of cancer treatment.

In 2013, Taiho Pharmaceutical launched TS-1 as the world’s first anticancer agent in OD tablet form. In recent years, Taiho Pharmaceutical has been conducting R&D aimed at comprehensive care in oncology, with an even greater awareness of patients’ quality of life. In addition to developing formulations that are easier for cancer patients to use, the company is going beyond cancer treatment, striving to contribute to better quality of life for patients.


Aloxi I.V. injection 0.75mg and Abraxane I.V. infusion 100mg launched in Japan

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Launched Abraxane I.V. infusion 100mg in Japan, an anticancer drug that has been approved in more than 65 countries*1

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TS-1 combination OD tablet T20/T25 and E-fen buccal tablet launched in Japan

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    The photo shows products at the time of initial launch.


Yondelis I.V. infusion 0.25mg/1mg launched in Japan

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Taiho Pharmaceutical aims to deliver innovative drugs from Japan to patients around the world.

LONSURF, a combination of two compounds, trifluridine and tipiracil, is a drug discovered by Taiho Pharmaceutical. It was first launched in Japan in 2014, and the following year the company began selling it in the U.S. LONSURF is the company’s first product approved in the U.S. In Europe, approval for the drug was obtained from the European Commission in 2016, and it has now been approved in more than 80 countries, including countries in Asia. In its half-century of anticancer drug research and development, Taiho Pharmaceutical has established a great body of evidence in cancer chemotherapy. Transforming that abundant experience into a dynamic asset, Taiho Pharmaceutical will keep developing new drugs to help cancer patients in Japan and around the world.


LONSURF combination tablet T15/T20 launched in Japan

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