Takeda, debt in mind, offloads 18 drugs in Asia Pacific to Celltrion for $278M

Takeda has earmarked another chunk of business for divestment to help it pay down debt.

The Japanese pharma is offloading 18 over-the-counter and prescription drugs marketed in the Asia-Pacific region to South Korea’s Celltrion for $278 million, it said on Thursday.

The portfolio generated sales of about $140 million in the fiscal year ended in March 2019, mainly driven by DPP-4 diabetes drug Nesina and hypertension med Edarbi, Takeda said.

It will continue to manufacture the products and supply them to Celltrion after the transaction closes. Takeda expects the deal to wrap up by the end of the year.

As is the case with its previous deals, the sold-off drugs fall outside of Takeda’s chosen focus business areas—gastroenterology, rare diseases, plasma-derived therapies, oncology and neuroscience.

“Across our growth and emerging markets, Takeda must focus on accelerating the commercial availability of our highly innovative medicines for patients living with complex and rare conditions, and expanding our approach to access to medicines across the region,” Takeda’s growth and emerging markets business chief, Ricardo Marek, said in a statement.

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Previously, Takeda sold noncore assets in the Russia-CIS region to Germany’s Stada and in the Middle East and Africa region to Swiss firm Acino. It has also penned deals to offload products in Latin America to Hypera Pharma and in Europe to Orifarm Group. Plus, it handed Shire’s eye drug Xiidra to Novartis in exchange for up to $5.3 billion.

The money raised goes toward Takeda's $10 billion selloff goal, aimed at reducing the debt load from its $59 billion takeover of Shire.

None of those geography-focused divestitures have touched upon Takeda’s home country, Japan. CEO Christophe Weber championed the Shire buyout in large part to expand the company’s global footprint. But some opponents of the deal were concerned that diversification would undermine Japan’s status in Takeda’s business.

Nikkei Asian Review recently reported that Takeda is looking to sell its Japanese over-the-counter unit for about 400 billion yen ($3.7 billion). During a conference call last month, Weber acknowledged that consumer health is not Takeda’s core business and those brands in Japan have not been growing in the past few years, but stressed that “our focus is about … finding the best way of developing these brands.”