Japan's Kaketsuken is in talks to sell its vaccines unit to Tokyo-based Astellas Pharma, Nikkei Asian Review reports, as it struggles to recover from findings that it falsified data and used unauthorized ingredients over a four-decade span.
A sale, if concluded, would reach into the tens of billions of yen, Nikkei said, though the scope for success remains uncertain. Kaketsuken's sales for the year ended March reached ¥47.5 billion ($439 million), Nikkei said, with the vaccine unit accounting for ¥28.1 billion, placing it as the second largest in Japan.
Nikkei did not detail the extent of talks on a possible sale, or if other companies may be interested as well.
The vaccines and blood products maker formally called the Chemo-Sero-Therapeutic Research Institute, or Kaketsuken, was hauled up by Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) in December with a 110-day suspension on 7 types of Kaketsuken products.
The allegations against Kaketsuken first surfaced in a report of a third-party panel in December and the company later admitted guilt.
Kaketsuken also controls 80% of the market for hepatitis B vaccines. In January, the China Food and Drug Administration sought to allay concerns of tainted blood products from Kaketsuken. Also in January, MHLW said shipments of hepatitis B vaccine Bimmugen by Kaketsuken could resume in case of shortages.
Kaketsuken works with leading drugmakers such as Daiichi Sankyo and Takeda Pharmaceutical on seasonal flu shots and other products and has a wide reach in the country and a series of licensing pacts with companies abroad.
For Astellas, a purchase of the vaccines unit could vault it toward the top of the flu vaccine market in Japan and jibe with a move made in early 2014 to grow the business by joining hands with Maryland-based ClearPath to identify biotechs to develop vaccine assets for Astellas.
- here's the article from Nikkei Asian Review