2024-07-11| Asia-Pacific

Moderna and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Partner on mRNA Respiratory Vaccines in Japan

by Denisse Sandoval
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Image source: Reuters/Mike Segar

On July 8th, Moderna, Inc. and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation (MTPC) officially entered into a joint agreement to co-promote Moderna’s mRNA respiratory vaccine portfolio in Japan, alongside Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, Spikevax.

Moderna’s Success Sparks Strategic Collaboration for mRNA Respiratory Vaccines

Modern, Inc., specializing in mRNA medicine, and MTPC, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Chemical Group (MCG), have slated the agreement to be in effect from March 31, 2029. Accordingly, the arrangement will leverage both companies’’ assets, including Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, Spikevax, to address public health requirements in Japan. The agreement terms will set Moderna responsible for the manufacturing, medical education, sales, and distribution of their mRNA respiratory vaccines according to the conditions of the deal. This collaboration aims to ensure effective distribution of Moderna’s mRNA respiratory vaccine portfolio to a wide audience in Japan, optimizing the vaccines’ impact on public health. Currently none of the financial terms surrounding the partnership have been fully disclosed.

Moderna and MTPC are working to enhance the availability and efficacy of mRNA-based vaccines for the Japanese population. President and Representative Director of Moderna Japan, Kazumasa Nagayama, stated, “We are pleased to partner with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma to facilitate the commercialization of our COVID-19 vaccine and future mRNA respiratory vaccine portfolio for the people of Japan.”

In expressing their commitment to contribute to public health and their collaboration, Representative Director of Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma, Akishiro Tsujimura, emphasized, “Moderna has delivered COVID-19 vaccines to many people worldwide since the COVID-19 pandemic began. We are delighted to collaborate with Moderna and engage in commercial activities for the COVID-19 vaccine and other mRNA respiratory vaccines in Japan. We will continue to contribute to public health in Japan through our vaccine business.”

Moderna’s mRNA Platform and MTPC’s Regulatory Insight to Maximize Local Vaccine Distribution

The current novel mRNA respiratory vaccine portfolio of the pharma giant features innovative vaccines engineered to target respiratory illnesses using messenger RNA (mRNA) technology. These vaccines stimulate an immune response against specific respiratory pathogens by delivering genetic instructions to target cells. Subsequently, the cells produce viral proteins that initiate an immune response. Moderna’s strategy aims to provide critical defense against various respiratory viruses, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), influenza, and other global health threats. 

Further, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma will play a crucial role in terms of commercialization and distribution of the vaccinations. In contrast to Moderna, they will be in charge of overseeing the regulatory procedures required for the approval of the product in Japan. In addition, the company will also manage the logistics of distribution within the country, ensuring that the vaccines are capable of reaching healthcare facilities efficiently and safely. The local corporation holds a strong position in the Japanese pharmaceutical industry, and this collaboration is expected to leverage Moderna’s manufacturing capacity and MTPC’s well-known distribution procedures.

Limited Domestic Expertise Resulting in Japan’s Reliance on Moderna’s mRNA Vaccine

Currently, Japan has not yet developed its own mRNA vaccines due to strict regulatory requirements and limited domestic expertise. Over time, the pharmaceutical sector in Japan has prioritized traditional vaccine platforms more, resulting in a delayed adoption of emerging technologies such as mRNA. As a result, Japan has had to rely on international partnerships to meet its public health demands. This partnership aims to accelerate the availability of mRNA vaccines in the nation, while strengthening the country’s ability to respond to global health threats.

Given the current position, Moderna and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma’s joint effort marks a critical advancement for public health in Japan. This strategic partnership aims to leverage the strengths of both companies, ensuring broad access and maximizing the impact of mRNA-based vaccines throughout the country.


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