New COO engineers a management shake-up at Takeda

Christophe Weber

Takeda didn't bring on non-Japanese COO Christophe Weber for nothing. The Osaka-based drugmaker, still faltering in the wake of its patent loss on diabetes champ Actos, was looking for a shake-up.

And now, as promised, the blueprints for a new, reorganized company structure are here. They include a new org chart, and a fresh set of top managers, including a replacement for the soon-to-be-former president of Millennium, Anna Protopapas.

Key to the change-up: Takeda will establish 5 so-called regional business units consisting of Japan Pharma, Emerging Markets, United States, Europe-Canada and Japan Consumer Healthcare, along with a pair of specialty business units for oncology and vaccines.

R&D will be realigned, too, to focus on a scaled-down list of therapeutic areas: central nervous system; cardiovascular and metabolic; gastroenterology; and oncology. Cambridge-based Millennium will become the new center of Takeda's oncology efforts, with Christophe Bianchi stepping up to head the unit as Millennium's Protopapas departs.

The way Takeda sees it, the revamp--which will be fully implemented by April 1 of next year, it figures--will help it zero in on its strategy, respond to changing market needs and capitalize on growth opportunities, which it could use after a 2013 that sunk it to a 15-year low in net income.

Weber's comments rang of recent moves from Takeda's pharma peers, many of which have recently shed their non-core assets to double down on core areas of focus. "Our aspiration for Takeda is to be the best-in-class company in every aspect of our business," he said in a statement.

That expanding in emerging markets ranks among the drugmaker's top priorities is no surprise. Current CEO Yasuchika Hasegawa--slated to step down later this year and turn the reins over the Weber--has been working on bolstering the company's presence in Latin America, and in July, Weber told Bloomberg the company needed to iron out its Indian operations.

These fast-growing markets, Takeda hopes, will help it rebound from the loss of Actos, a drug that once accounted for half the company's U.S. revenues and 18% of its worldwide sales. Without it, the drugmaker has been foundering; in the first quarter of this year, it put up a mere 0.2% in sales growth with a top-line haul of ¥411.15 billion ($3.84 billion).

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