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Someone who goes beyond MR precedents with the challenge of “What can I do for patients?” in his heart.

Masahiro Kato

Marketing & Sales Div.
Kanto-Minami Regional
Management Office
Yokohama Branch
Since 2020

Once I decide to do something, I am determined to accomplish it.

After completing six years of study in pharmacology, Masahiro Kato aspired to be an MR in the hope of contributing to medicine based on the knowledge he acquired in his studies and of interacting with others. Chugai Pharmaceutical drew his interest because of its strengths in the field of the serious disease that is cancer, as well as its many promising new drug candidates in the field of neurology and rare diseases. He thought that working as an MR at such a company would be very rewarding. During his job search, Kato had an opportunity to talk to a Chugai Pharmaceutical MR in person, and that conversation was key to his decision to join the company. ‘Talking to that person made me feel that Chugai Pharmaceutical is a company with a warm atmosphere that values employees. On the other hand, it is also a company where hard work results are recognized, and even junior employees are entrusted with important markets. That kind of environment attracted me, and I decided that this was the company for me.’ It was not long after joining Chugai Pharmaceutical that he experienced that environment for himself.

His first posting was to the Yokohama Branch. There, he was assigned to the role of providing information to private practices in the area, mainly about therapeutics for osteoporosis. ‘One of the important tasks of MRs who look after private practice accounts is to propose holding product presentation sessions for doctors and nurses to give them a deeper understanding of Chugai Pharmaceutical’s products. As a rookie, I set a target of holding 15 such sessions in three months in the hope of increasing communication with private practices in the area. I hate doing things halfway, and once I have decided to do something, I am determined to accomplish it. On this occasion as well, I worked very hard, making proposal after proposal to doctors, and as a result, I exceeded my target by holding 16 sessions in the timeframe. My boss was very impressed, saying that they have never seen an MR who holds 16 presentations in three months, and it also helped to raise our business performance.

How to deliver a new drug into the hands of patients.

Although he was a rookie, Kato’s performance was recognized, and he was assigned the accounts of two base hospitals in the area as early as at the end of his first year. In these new assignments, he started to deal mainly with the oncology field, which he had not handled with his private practice accounts. This required him to implement other, more advanced MR activities that differed from his previous experience. ‘In the oncology field, depending on the patient’s background, there is a limit to the products that can be used. For example, I discuss the appropriate treatment based on the patient's current condition, which I obtain from the treating physician. This includes kidney function, age, patient PS (performance status: 5-grade scale that estimates the patient’s ability to perform certain actions of daily living), and where the cancer has metastasized. This is a task of grave responsibility that has direct life-and-death implications, so I carried out my activities in collaboration with in-house experts.’ Not long into his second year, Kato was also tasked with planning promotions for a new drug in the blood cancer domain that was about to be marketed.

‘Assigning important tasks to junior employees to encourage their growth is part of Chugai Pharmaceutical’s corporate culture. I was also tasked with devising the promotion strategy for the delivery to patients of a new drug in the blood cancer domain in my second year of the Company.’ Kato devised a plan after discussions with his senior colleagues. The hematology department of one of his hospital accounts had just moved to an area where there were no doctors capable of treating blood diseases. For this reason, he held an information session to make local medical institutions aware that this hematology department had moved into the area and provide information about what treatments it could provide. As a result, the department started to attract large numbers of patients with blood diseases. ‘If there is a patient who needs this drug, I want to deliver it into their hands as soon as possible. It was with that kind of strong intention that I engaged in my activities at that time.’

Helping all patients without being confined to products.

It is precisely the fact that Chugai Pharmaceutical has so many valuable pharmaceuticals to offer that generates a true sense of helping patients. Kato says that this is what makes him feel a sense of pride and reward in his job. ‘I was really delighted when a doctor told me that a patient’s cancer had shrunk because of one of our drugs. That is the ultimate happiness for an MR.’ In a few short years since joining the Company, Kato has gained intensive experience and a deeper understanding of medicine, and he is now also working on activities that go beyond products. That includes initiatives in the area of Advanced Care Planning (ACP). ACP involves holding discussions with the patient’s family and the doctor before the patient begins treatment about the kind of care they want, taking the future into account.

‘I happened to meet a doctor who has a strong interest in ACP, and, through my interactions with that doctor since then, I myself have come to feel an affinity with ACP, which respects the wishes and values of patients. The doctor hopes to enhance ACP initiatives at the doctor’s own hospital. I want to be of assistance, so I am currently planning to hold a seminar by a prominent expert in ACP. As ACP concerns all patients, we can even help patients in disease domains that Chugai Pharmaceutical does not cover.’ Even though this activity is not directly related to the company’s products, the company would not deny it. Kato is able to undertake activities that are in line with his core motivation of “What I can do for the sake of patients?” This is a factor in which Kato gains a deep sense of the significance of working as an MR for Chugai Pharmaceutical.

*The contents of this article, and the divisions that the people featured in this article belonged to and the names of those divisions are current as of the time of the interview.


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