Kirin Brewery Co. intends to step up its operations in pharmaceuticals, it was announced yesterday. The company will increase production capacity at a factory in Gunma Prefecture, and also take on more medical representatives.

A new building will be built at its drug manufacturing plant in Takasaki, Gunma. This will put the company in a strong position for the planned domestic launch of a new anemia drug in three years' time.

The number of medical representatives will rise by around 30 to 370 this year, as Kirin considers marketing independently. Its marketing contract with Sankyo Co expires in March 2005.

Kirin's pharmaceutical operations are worth about ¥60 billion (US$552m).