Takeda eyes in-house development, acquisition mix as Weber nears first year at helm

Takeda CEO Christophe Weber

Osaka-based Takeda Pharmaceutical CEO Christophe Weber still needs to win over investors one year after taking over Japan's top and oldest drugmaker, Bloomberg reports. Weber's plan is to find new blockbusters in house or via partnerships and acquisitions while simultaneously bolstering sales of generics.

French-born Weber, who became the first foreign head of the storied company in April 2015, travels the biotech circuit in search of the next big thing, including a summer visit to the company's Boston hub, Bloomberg said, where he courted potential partners.

The visit marked part of the strategy to find new drug candidates that also includes Andy Plump, who was named chief medical and scientific officer in December 2014 before Weber formally took charge.

Weber and Plump want to play a long and short game on discovery, with gastrointestinal indications and oncology in focus, that will vault the company into the ranks of top innovative drugmakers globally, Bloomberg reports.

"Ten years ago you could be a leading a global company by just being big in Japan because the domestic market was so big, but today it's impossible," Weber told Bloomberg.

Still the share price, up 8.5% in the past year, lags the 18% gain in Japan's Topix Pharmaceutical Index, Bloomberg said, with Credit Suisse analyst Fumiyoshi Sakai saying he was "quite gloomy" on prospects for a near-term bounce.

Weber has not been idle though, settling a class-action lawsuit related to Actos in the United States for $2.3 billion. He also lined up a series of gastrointestinal deals recently and struck a generics pact with Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA) for wider generic sales in Japan.

Plump, who joined from Sanofi ($SNY), told Bloomberg he doesn't feel pressure to ramp up Takeda's pipeline rapidly as therapies such as Entyvio give the company "a runway of at least 5 years assuming nothing awful happens."

"Despite the fact that it's existed for more than two centuries and has been doing R&D for 100 years, it's a newborn company," Plump told Bloomberg. "It was given a fresh perspective and a new outlook maybe five years ago, but it's like a baby in the industry."

- here's the Bloomberg story