Takeda transfers HPV vaccine rights as it continues globalization push

Takeda has been singing a globalization mantra when it comes to its vaccines unit, and that's already led it to dump one R&D program as it zeroes in on "higher impact" public health endeavors. Now, it's bowing out of another vaccine program--this time for HPV.

The Japanese company has transferred its October 2010 license pact with the Japan Health Sciences Foundation for patent rights to a HPV candidate to Chemo-Sero-Therapeutic Research Institute (Kaketsuken), it announced Tuesday. According to the agreement, research and commercialization of the shot--which Takeda took through preclinical development--will be Kaketsuken's undertaking going forward.

Takeda vaccines head Rajeev Venkayya

It's the second candidate in as many months to which Takeda's bidding farewell. Last month, the company said it would discontinue development of a Phase II Diphtheria-Tetanus-acellular Pertussis (DTaP) and Sabin inactivated poliovirus vaccine (sIPV) vaccine to put its focus on "infectious diseases that threaten the lives of millions of people each year, and for which vaccines do not exist," vaccines head Rajeev Venkayya said in a statement.

HPV certainly doesn't fit that bill. Merck ($MRK) already has the No. 2 best-selling jab in the world, Gardasil, to prevent against the virus, and GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) sells its own product, Cervarix, outside the U.S., too.

Dengue, on the other hand, does. Takeda is currently working on a vaccine to fight the deadly mosquito-borne illness, for which there are no approved vaccines out there. While it's expected to pick up some competition eventually--Sanofi ($SNY) is leading the race and expects to launch its weapon against the fever in some countries by the end of this year--analysts expect Takeda to be giving the French drugmaker a run for its money by 2020.

To that end, Takeda is placing itself strategically to stay competitive. A couple of weeks back, it said it would house its vaccines business in Singapore's Biopolis, not far from the developing nations for whom dengue represents a serious public health threat.

- read Takeda's release

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