A New Prescription for Asia’s Top Drugmaker
Takeda targets drug categories with global appeal Most “new molecules discovered today are not by Big Pharma”
For much of its history, Takeda Pharmaceutical was a Japanese success story, becoming Asia’s largest drug company and a global force on the strength of medicines such as Actos, once the world’s No. 1 diabetes medicine. No longer.
Actos lost patent protection in 2012, as have other Takeda stalwarts over the past decade, and the company’s 5,000 scientists have produced few winners to take their place. The drugmaker’s earnings hit a 15-year low in the fiscal year ended March 2014. And while Takeda once counted on strong demand for its branded drugs in its home market, that’s changing as Japan’s government embraces cheaper generics because of budget constraints. Much of the action in pharmaceuticals is also shifting from mature economies such as Japan toward emerging markets, where drug sales are growing much faster.
With about 1.78 trillion yen ($15 billion) in annual revenue, Takeda ranks 18th among the 20 largest pharma companies worldwide. “Ten years ago you could be a leading global company by just being big in Japan, because the domestic market was so big, but today it’s impossible,” says Christophe Weber, the Frenchman who last year became Takeda’s first foreign chief executive officer.
Weber, a 20-year veteran of GlaxoSmithKline, joined Takeda in