FiercePharmaAsia—Takeda’s workforce rejig and Velcade patent win, China’s insurance drug list

Takeda is moving 750 jobs to its Cambridge, Massachusetts site, while cutting 480 in sales.

Welcome to this week's FiercePharmaAsia report, which includes stories about Takeda's workforce relocation and reduction plan and its Velcade patent, discounts drugmakers took to get some blockbuster drugs onto China's national insurance coverage list, and more.

1. Takeda relocates hundreds of R&D, vaccine jobs and cuts 480 in sales: report

Takeda is moving about 600 employees in R&D and 150 in vaccines from suburban Chicago to the Boston area as part of a two-year effort to put its U.S. jobs in the vibrant scientific hub, while 480 primary care sales employees has been cut as the drugmaker focuses more on oncology. The company’s global vaccines and oncology businesses are based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

2. With appeals court win, Takeda scores blockbuster Velcade patent reprieve till 2022

A U.S. appeals court overturned a 2015 ruling that would invalidate a key patent of Takeda’s multiple myeloma blockbuster Velcade. The cancer med brought in about $1 billion in U.S. sales last year, but copycats from Novartis’ Sandoz and Teva are among the challengers. A previous estimate based on the patent loss predicated that the drug’s sales would fall to $187 million in 2022, but the new ruling would reinstate its patent till that time.

3. To win blockbuster spots on China's coverage list, Big Pharma offers big discounts

Less than half a year after changing its national insurance coverage drug list, China is adding three dozen new drugs to the program, including foreign blockbusters. Roche got Herceptin, Avastin, Rituxan and Tarceva enlisted this time, the most among all drugmakers. Velcade, Revlimid and Brilinta are also among the most watched drugs. To get on the list, drugmakers take an average 44% off their drugs’ current retail prices.

4. Chinese sequencing giant BGI Genomics raises $80M in IPO

BGI Genomics, known for its genome sequencing from a time when the technology was yet to take off, has completed an $80 million IPO. With its research business contracted, the Chinese company is shifting its focus on to reproductive health screening. Pricing originally at about $2 a share on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, the company’s stock has jumped exponentially in the first few days.

5. Japan’s Fujifilm sees phase 2 flop for Alzheimer’s candidate

Fujifilm became the latest to fail in the difficult Alzheimer’s realm. The Japanese company’s T-817MA completely failed in a phase 2 study, missing its primary endpoints of cognition and/or global clinical function, as well as secondary ones. It will, however, further develop the compound after digging deeper into the data and possibly with the help of a partner.

6. India’s Alembic Pharma opens anticancer manufacturing plant in Gujarat

API drugmaker Alembic Pharmaceuticals, which has been manufacturing anti-infective, analgesic and cough and cold therapies, is opening an anticancer manufacturing facility in India. The facility will manufacture 60 million tablets and capsules and about 20 million vials of liquid injectable and lyophilized concentrates.