Takeda continues buying spree, picks up LigoCyte

Having made a series of large acquisitions that significantly broadened its reach, Japan's Takeda Pharmaceutical today announced a $60 million plus deal that seems to be filling in around the edges.

Takeda is buying LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals to build on the vaccine business that it launched last year. LigoCyte is working on a norovirus vaccine to prevent gastroenteritis--often called stomach flu, The Wall Street Journal reports.

In April, Takeda said it was buying Philadelphia-based URL Pharma for $800 million upfront, plus potential follow-up payments. That deal gave Takeda the gout drug Colcrys, which brought in $430 million for URL last year. Though Japan is looking more attractive to U.S. and European pharma companies, like other Japanese drugmakers, Takeda has been shopping for assets outside its home market. And, like many drugmakers, it is trying to buy companies with new drugs to overcome revenue falls from its own patent losses. Takeda grabbed Millennium Pharmaceuticals for $8.8 billion in 2008, and then shelled out $13.7 billion last year for Switzerland's Nycomed.

Anna Protopapas, Takeda's global head of business development, in an interview last month with FierceBiotech, suggested that more was coming for its vaccine business.

"Vaccines are an important new area," said Protopapas. She indicated that the company would likely seek "bolt-on" deals in its therapeutic areas of interest in the foreseeable future.

In August, one of Takeda's best-sellers, the diabetes drug Actos, lost patent protection. While it's not a megabrand like Lipitor or Plavix, Actos has brought in more than $3 billion in U.S. sales at its peak, and more than $16 billion total since its release in 1999. Actos accounted for about 18% of Takeda's 2011 revenue--and 51.8% of its U.S. revenue.

- here's The Wall Street Journal's story
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