Astellas scores highest in Japanese M&A bout

Japan’s biggest pharma players have been roaming the world in recent years in a restless search for new acquisitions. They've been looking for deals to put an extra oomph into their earnings. Now The Wall Street Journal is reviewing the biggest buyers and seeing who scored the juiciest gains, and who harvested bitter losses.

Astellas Pharma, which acquired OSI Pharmaceuticals in 2010, comes out on top. A big reason is OSI's cancer drug Tarceva, which racked up a 55% increase in sales for the 9 months through December. The biggest loser: Daiichi Sankyo, which has been wrestling with a major league headache after its deal to acquire a majority of Ranbaxy left it with a mountain of manufacturing woes. Its $500 million provision to settle the issue is driving a 79% plunge in annual net profit.

Takeda Pharmaceutical is slated for the next big test after completing the $13.7 billion deal for Nycomed. As the WSJ notes, Takeda is pushing through a rapid streamlining effort to bring down some hefty costs. But it's also seen a big jump in emerging market sales--a key criterion for success in the Big Pharma world.

- see the story in the WSJ