Takeda sets sights on the vaccine market

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The global vaccines business is expected to grow by at least $30 billion over the next 5 years, and Takeda Pharmaceutical is hoping to get more skin in that game.

Currently, the company functions with a vaccines base of just under $300 million in annual revenue, The Wall Street Journal reports. But it's aggressively searching for technologies and recruiting talent in an effort to boost that amount.

So, why vaccines? They're costly and time-consuming to research and develop, for sure, but vaccines are nearly impossible to re-create in generic form. This gives companies a leg up amid cuts in profits as blockbusters and other drugs fall off patent. Takeda will focus on preventative vaccines for common infectious diseases, such as gastroenteritis, instead of complex therapeutics such as cancer vaccines.

"As a business, we think there is a big opportunity (for Takeda with vaccines). But we don't know yet how it will turn out so we can't price it into our 5-year earnings projections," Satoru Takaoki, an analyst at SMBC Friend Research Center, told the WSJ. "But we see it more as a potential than a risk."

And Takeda is going global. A $13.7 billion purchase of Nycomed last year opened doors for the company to more than 70 countries. And last month, Takeda snapped up LigoCyte for $60 million, nabbing its lead vaccine candidate for gastroenteritis.

The worldwide vaccines market is expected to expand 53% to $30.5 billion in 2016, up from $19.9 billion in 2011, the WSJ reports. Vaccine makers can thank China and India for this jump. Right now, GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK), Sanofi ($SNY), Novartis ($NVS) and Merck ($MRK) dominate roughly 80% of the global market.

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