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Episode 5:
Manabu Kameda, Ube Plant, Kyowa Hakko Kirin

In order to achieve our business vision to become a Global Specialty Pharmaceutical Company, there are many important factors including drug discovery speed, innovative new drugs, and cost competitiveness. However, as someone who is involved in manufacturing, I believe that our greatest responsibility as a pharmaceutical company and our role in society is to stably supply high quality pharmaceuticals.

The Ube Plant is dedicated to the manufacturing of oral solid preparations. It is a cutting edge, mass-production, automated plant that has introduced the latest manufacturing engineering technology. Surrounded by nature, the plant has developed a symbiotic relationship with the environment, coexisting with the locality. As part of the reorganization of production facilities that is underway, a new pharmaceutical preparations plant is being built within the site, and we are presently proceeding with technology transfer anticipating the start of commercial production in 2015. To prepare for the launch of this new plant, I am implementing test production and validation (scientifically verifying the appropriateness of the manufacturing process, among other things). Various divisions including the Quality Division, Technology Division, and Manufacturing Division are working as a team in close cooperation so that high-quality pharmaceuticals can be delivered to patients.

When the Ube Plant commences operations it will fulfill the role of KHK’s flagship plant for oral preparations with an annual production capacity of 1.4 billion pills. Employing state-of-the-art automated facilities, the new plant will provide very low risk of quality degradation, while being highly cost-competitive. However, high quality pharmaceuticals cannot be supplied simply by introducing these automated facilities. To provide high quality pharmaceuticals, the presence of highly skilled operators is indispensable, including personnel who can operate this new equipment to keep it functioning at optimal performance, and personnel who can carefully and thoroughly maintain the equipment. The plant has many masters, who possess high level skills and awareness. As a team member, I undertake my work with daily diligence so that I too can one day become a first-rate master. Through our work to “create and supply pharmaceuticals,” I hope to contribute to improving the QOL for patients and their families, and to building bridges between patients and society.

In my work, I deeply relate to the phrase “strive to become a superb team” in our Commitment to Life. There was one event that gave me a real sense of our company’s world-class teamwork symbolized in the phrase, “Show the world the excellence of coming together. Amazing results, when we become one.” At the time of the 3/11 Great East Japan Earthquake, I was employed at the Fuji Plant, and there was a period after the earthquake when drug production and supply was threatened. Knowing that there were a great many people who would suffer without this medicine, the entire plant worked together to continue producing medicine so that we could somehow meet our supply commitments. Until then, we had been working dayshifts with two days off on the weekend; but during the time of the earthquake disaster, we worked on the weekends and for long shifts and continued this arduous pace for over a year. As a result, we were able to deliver drugs to patients without missing our supply obligations even once. Even though we were hard pressed, no one at the plant expressed displeasure. With a strong sense of mission as producers of medicine, everyone struggled to fulfill their duties. The sense of achievement in riding through these hard times also gave me great confidence.

I originally aspired to enter this industry because my father worked at a pharmaceutical company. The stories about medicine that my father sometimes told me when I was a child taught me to respect drugs and taught me about the joy in producing medicine. I proceeded into this field aiming to become a first-rate pharmaceutical production engineer. Seeing first-hand the original antibody technology developed by our company through many years of biopharmaceutical research, I was convinced that I could realize my aspirations here.

Until a few years ago, Ube Plant was a small-scale operation of less than 50 employees. Our greatest strength is our “solidarity” that has been built over time, which can also be said to be a facet of the Ube Plant’s ethos. Just as how we naturally help out family members when they are in need, at the plant we provide support to one another extending across sectional barriers, and we celebrate together if our business performance rises. This cohesiveness has not changed even now, after the completion of the new plant, with a roughly three-fold increase in the number of employees due to personnel transfers from other plants. On the contrary, the respective corporate cultures and technologies of this plant and other plants have mutually spurred us on in beneficial ways, and have started producing synergies. As a core plant of Kyowa Hakko Kirin, I have great expectations that our world-class teamwork will make even greater strides forward in the future.

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