kuraray


News Releases 2006

Joint Venture Established to Manufacture Hollow-Fiber Membranes for Medical Applications

June 1, 2006
Kuraray Medical Inc.
(Kuraray Group)

Kuraray Medical Inc. (Headquarters: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; President: Hideo Horii) and Asahi Kasei Medical Co., Ltd. (Headquarters: Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo; President: Yasuyuki Yoshida) have concluded a basic agreement on the establishment of a joint venture company for the purpose of manufacturing hollow-fiber membranes for medical applications that employ ethylene vinyl alcohol polymer (EVOH) resin that is manufactured and sold by Kuraray under the EVAL brand name.

1. Overview of New Company

(1) Company name A-K Membrane Manufacturing Co., Ltd.
(2) Representative Tatsuo Hiyoshi (Managing Director, Asahi Kasei Medical Co., Ltd.)
(3) Business activities Manufacture and supply of hollow-fiber membranes for medical applications utilizing Kuraray's EVOH resin (Brand name: EVAL)
(4) Establishment June 2006
(5) Production capacity Membranes for 4 million dialyzers/year (initially 2.6 million dialyzers/year)
(6) Location Nobeoka City, Miyazaki Prefecture
(7) Commencement of operations May 2008 (planned)
(8) Total investment Approximately ¥2,500 million (Initial investment approx. ¥2,000 million)
(9) Capital ¥490 million
(10) Shareholdings Kuraray Medical Inc. (50%)
Asahi Kasei Medical Co., Ltd. (50%)
(11) Number of employees Approx. 50

2. Background and Aims

Both Kuraray Medical Inc. and Asahi Kasei Medical Co., Ltd. deem it essential to undertake joint capitalization of a manufacturing facility to ensure the stable supply of dialysis- and plasmapheresis-related products.

  • (1) Kuraray Medical Inc. had been investigating sites to relocate the EVOH hollow-fiber membrane manufacturing facility that is currently within Kuraray's Kurashiki Plant as part of reorganization plans when Asahi Kasei Medical approached Kuraray Medical with their EVOH product lineup concept. Consequently a site in an area close to Asahi Kasei Medical's Nobeoka artificial kidney assembly plant (Oita Prefecture) was considered to be the most preferable.
  • (2) By having products in its lineup that use EVOH hollow-fiber membranes (for their superior biocompatibility and extremely gentle dialysis treatment, particularly for those people with early symptoms and the elderly) and making full use of the supplementary effects of polysulfone hollow-fiber membranes (the global standard for high-performance membranes, particularly in its supreme ability to remove low-molecular weight proteins), Asahi Kasei Medical is bringing about a move toward the most appropriate courses of treatment at all dialysis facilities.

This agreement between the two companies was brought about by the opportune timing of Kuraray Medical's search for a new EVOH manufacturing site as part of its reorganization of the Kurashiki Plant and Asahi Kasei Medical's plan to increase production at Nobeoka.

Company Outlines

1. Kuraray Medical Inc.

(1) Representative Hideo Horii
(2) Established June 21, 2001
(3) Capital ¥2,500 million (Kuraray Co., Ltd. 100%)
(4) Headquarters 1-1-3 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
(5) Production plant Kurashiki Plant (manufacture of hollow-fiber membranes for artificial kidneys, dental adhesives and dental filling resins)
(6) No. of employees Approximately 340 (as of March 31, 2006)
(7) Net sales ¥12,800 million (as of March 31, 2006)
(8) Business activities Development, manufacture and sale of artificial kidneys, plasmapheresis-related products, dental adhesives and dental filling resins and other medical devices

2. Asahi Kasei Medical Co., Ltd.

(1) Representative Yasuyuki Yoshida
(2) Established July 24, 1974
(3) Capital ¥800 million (Asahi Kasei Pharma Corporation 100%)
(Note: Asahi Kasei Pharma Corporation is wholly owned by Asahi Kasei Corporation)
(4) Headquarters 9-1 Kanda Mitoshiro-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
(5) Production plants Nobeoka Plant (manufacture of hollow-fiber membranes for artificial kidneys); Oita Plant (artificial kidney manufacture and assembly); China Plant (Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, artificial kidney manufacture and assembly)
(6) No. of employees Approximately 1,700 (as of March 31, 2006)
(7) Net sales ¥40,100 million (as of March 31, 2006)
(8) Business activities Development, manufacture and sale of artificial kidneys, leukocyte reduction filters for blood transfusion, blood- and plasma-related products, Planova™ (virus removal filters) and other medical devices

Glossary

*1 Hollow-fiber membranes employing EVOH resin (Brand name: EVAL)
A special feature of hollow-fiber membranes is the use of EVOH resin, which Kuraray was the first in the world to commercialize. EVAL, the brand name under which Kuraray markets such EVOH resin, is highly rated for its excellent biocompatibility, active oxygen-producing characteristics and for suppressing inflammatory response.
*2 Polysulfone hollow-fiber membranes
Hollow-fiber membranes that use polysulfone resin. These demonstrate high performance in removing low-molecular weight proteins such as B2-MG and have excellent biocompatibility and antithrombotic qualities.
*3 Dialysis (dialysis treatment)
In dialysis treatment, the patient's blood is drawn outside the body and brought into contact with dialysis fluid through hollow-fiber membranes (artificial kidneys) to dispose of the urea, creatinine, uric acid and other waste substances normally released in urine, the cleansed blood then being circulated back into the body. The artificial kidney (dialyzer) is the semipermeable membrane incorporated into the container to bring the blood into contact with the dialysis fluid when carrying out this method. Types of cellulose (such as regenerated cellulose and cellulose triacetate) as well as synthetic polymers (polysulfone, EVOH, polyacrylonitrile, polymethylmetaacrylate and the like) are used as raw material.
*4 4Plasmapheretic treatment
The plasmapheretic treatment (therapy) method using plasmapheretic receptacles removes disease agents that are present in plasma through extracorporeal circulation by means of a therapy and treatment system that applies plasmapheresis to patients with chronic liver ailments, collagen disease and the like who have only received treatments such as medication for their conditions. Among the materials used for the plasmapheretic receptacles are synthetic polymer hollow-fiber membranes (polysulfone, EVOH, polyacrylonitrile, polyethylene, etc.), absorbent materials and nonwoven fabrics.