- 薬史学雑誌 (ISSN:02852314)
- vol.55, no.1, pp.13-20, 2020 (Released:2020-08-02)
Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is a bile acid used worldwide for improving hepatic, bile, and digestive functions. UDCA was first introduced to the world more than 60 years ago as URSOR Powder in Japan by Tokyo Tanabe Pharma Co., Ltd. (founded in 1901 by Motosaburo Tanabe). However, the origin of this medicine is even older; that is, it was an animal crude drug called “YUTAN” made from bear gallbladder.
The same as other western medicines, chemical synthesis was necessary to commercialize UDCA. It was an exceptionally rare agent that required isolation, crystallization, determination of structural formula, and establishment of an efficient synthetic method all conducted by Japanese researchers. After being commercialized, URSO was approved for additional indications of gallstone dissolution (1978), implementation of liver function in primary biliary cirrhosis (1999), and chronic hepatitis C (2007). These achievements were the result of the unflagging efforts of many researchers. Although 60 years have passed after the market launch, UDCA sales are still growing globally and high-quality bulk powder is continuously supplied from Japan to the world.
This article discusses the development history of URSO in view of the relationship with the brief history of Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation.