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Japan's Takeda banks on new product launches to shore up growth in nation

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2019-12-24 09:57
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A Takeda logo is seen in its research hub in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, Nov 26, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

Japan-based Takeda Pharmaceutical Co Ltd aims to launch at least 10 innovative medicines in China and become a top 10 multinational company in the nation's pharmaceutical industry by 2023, according a senior executive from the company.

The company, which aims to reach another 10 million patients in China by 2023, has invested more than 1,500 million yuan ($215 million) in the past five years in research and development to support its new developments in China, said Costa Saroukos, CFO of Takeda, during a recent interview with China Daily in Shanghai.

"China is one of our top-priority markets with product launches and potential growth," Saroukos said, adding that the company, which ranked 16th among multinational pharmaceutical companies in China, currently has a window of opportunity due to government healthcare reforms.

"Our strategy of bringing in innovation for Chinese patients' unmet needs is consistent with the healthcare reforms, and that comes with continuous long-term investment in China," he said.

The China market continued to show strong year-on-year revenue momentum of 40-percent growth for the first six months of Takeda's 2019 fiscal year, said Saroukos, making the country the fastest growing market for Takeda, whose key business areas touch upon oncology, gastroenterology, neuroscience and rare diseases, and the area of plasma-derived therapy.

The company's revenue growth in emerging markets globally-around 50 countries and regions including China-was around 14 percent year-on-year, he added.

China's healthcare market is expected to reach 8 trillion yuan by 2020 and double that figure by 2030, according to the Healthy China 2030 blueprint.

In March, the company invested a further 110 million yuan in expanding its Tianjin facility to strengthen its manufacturing final step for the China market.

"Such investments enabled faster and smoother development and launches of innovative therapies in China and therefore benefit more Chinese patients," said Saroukos.

The growth of the China market for Takeda was mainly driven by new product launches, which benefited from increasing patient access to innovative medicines through accelerated approval timelines and reimbursement listing in healthcare reforms, the company said.

Sean Shan, president of Takeda China, said that an innovative therapy treating multiple myeloma, the second most common malignant tumor in the blood system, obtained regulatory approval in April last year and was launched on the market in July 2018, a year in advance from the company's estimated timeframe thanks to the healthcare reforms. The product was included into the National Reimbursement Drug List in October 2018.

Shan said that seven of over 10 products that the company planned to introduce to China are going through the approval process and three of them are included in the list for accelerated approval.

The therapies included the company's star product treating inflammatory bowel disease and an innovative therapy treating hereditary angioedema, a rare disease that can cause attacks of swelling in body parts and effective medical treatment is unavailable in China so far, Shan said.

Takeda Development Center Asia was moved from Singapore to Shanghai in 2017 and it has initiated more than 50 clinical trials in Asia, including 30 in China, to accelerate the company's new product development. The company said such programs are mostly driven by Chinese patients' unmet needs but can also benefit patients in other parts of Asia and globally.

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