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Takeda wins $70M from Japan to bump up H5N1 vaccine production

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Takeda's Hikari plant--Courtesy of Takeda

Last month, Takeda snagged Japanese approval for its cell-cultured influenza vaccine for H5N1, and it's about to have more space to make it. The Japanese government has selected the pharma for a supplemental subsidy of ¥7.2 billion ($70.2 million), which will help expand production for an additional 8 million people in the event of a pandemic.

The subsidy will help Takeda bump up capacity at its Hakari Plant, a state-of-the-art facility Takeda established after receiving another public subsidy--this one for ¥7.2 billion--in 2009. With the expansion, Takeda should be able to supply the government with vaccines to protect 33 million people if needed.

Japan has put a pretty penny into ensuring sufficient outbreak protection from H5N1, the highly contagious and potentially deadly virus subtype also known as avian influenza A. In 2009, it awarded Takeda ¥2.4 billion to support development of a pandemic influenza vaccine, and the following year Deerfield, IL's Baxter International ($BAX) licensed the Japanese company exclusive rights to its cell-culture flu vaccine technology for Takeda's home market.

But investments in production are particularly important, as fellow local player Daiichi Sankyo has recently shown. After running into processing difficulties, the drugmaker missed the production target it had agreed upon with the Japanese government, failing to hit a target of 40 million doses within the first 6 months of production and heightening the need for Takeda's vaccine.

Dr. Rajeev Venkayya

"We are pleased that Takeda was selected as a recipient of the latest subsidy, and believe this is a validation of the company's performance under the previous subsidy programs," Dr. Rajeev Venkayya, head of Takeda's vaccine business division, said in a statement. "With a history of supplying important vaccines in Japan for over 60 years, we remain committed to using our experience and capabilities to support domestic pandemic preparedness."

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