Consumption of Food Plays a Vital Health-related Role.
Otsuka Can Make a Difference with Medical Foods.
Medical Foods

The Otsuka group provides nutrition for patients and for innumerable people who need to care for their health on a day-to-day basis. However, the endless variety of health conditions ranges from those who have difficulty chewing or swallowing to others who may require appropriate hydration. “Medical Foods” were developed to provide nutrition to meet specific health-related needs. In addition to being useful in medical and nursing care settings, these innovative foods are based on medical and nutritional scientific evidence amassed by a pharmaceutical company. In Japan, where life expectancy is long, what health-related role is played by consumption of food? And what can Otsuka do to make a difference for better health worldwide? Based on extensive expertise in clinical nutrition, Otsuka is qualified to focus on the challenges that can be addressed with medical foods.

For example, OS-1 was developed to address the challenge of oral rehydration therapy. During the 1990s in Japan, patients suffering from dehydration normally received water and electrolytes intravenously. In the U.S. and Europe, oral ingestion, which takes advantage of the absorption capacity of the intestines, was favored. When cholera was prevalent on a global scale, oral rehydration therapy was found to be effective for relief of dehydration caused by diarrhea and vomiting. Marshalling knowledge developed through its I.V. solution business, the Otsuka group embarked on development of an oral rehydration solution. Many combinations of ingredients were considered and tested for both ease of consumption and extended shelf life. Launched in 2001, the product became Japan's first oral rehydration solution to be approved for labeling as a “food for persons with medical conditions.” As a food, OS-1 is used not only in medical facilities, but also widely used by patients under a doctor's instructions to treat mild to moderate dehydration and as a countermeasure for heatstroke associated with dehydration.

HINEX E-Gel was developed as a concentrated liquid diet product. Liquid diet products are important as meal substitutes for maintaining patient health. However, due to their liquid nature, in addition to higher possibility of backflow from the stomach to the esophagus, liquid diet products may trigger diarrhea as they move quickly from the stomach into the intestinal tract. Though Otsuka had already released a liquid diet product, development of an entirely new type was undertaken as a response to this and other feedback from medical professionals. Would it be possible to develop a product to be consumed as a liquid that would naturally become a solid in the stomach? Aiming to make this idea a reality, numerous researchers persevered in countless trial-and-error experiments. Adopting this new concept, the resulting concentrated liquid diet product supports medical professionals from the important perspective of “food.”

Foods for patients who have difficulty swallowing or those who are relearning the process of chewing and swallowing presented yet another challenge. Having learned the importance of oral intake from medical scenarios, Otsuka continued to pursue methods of oral nutrition. Dietary intake involves the three processes of chewing, forming food mass, and swallowing. In 2006, Otsuka launched ENGELEAD, an easy-to-swallow jelly product that is insoluble in the mouth, approved for persons who have difficulty swallowing. PROCESS LEAD, a product with a solid texture that becomes an easy-to-swallow paste when chewed, was introduced in 2014. These products enable numerous patients in medical and nursing care settings to rediscover the pleasures of consuming food.

Beyond curing illness, we aim to support individuals in leading fulfilling lives. The act of “eating” is linked to daily health and more rewarding lives. The key concepts are “dehydration,” “malnutrition,” and “difficulty swallowing.” In Japan and overseas – in Asia in particular – Otsuka is focusing on the range of challenges that can be addressed with medical foods.