Takeda CEO reassures investors worried the math on its $62B Shire buyout doesn't add up

red blood cells
Investors opposed to Takeda's buyout of Shire are worried about building competition to the Ireland-based drugmaker's lucrative hemophilia treatments. (Pixaby/Geralt)

It turns out that investor opposition to Takeda’s $62 billion buyout of Shire comes down to blood. Investors are concerned that competition to Shire’s hemophilia drugs for blood disease cut its revenues so much that it will make the deal unsustainable.

The Financial Times, citing sources, reported that during a recent investor meeting, Takeda CEO Christophe Weber was pressed on how sustainable sales from Shire’s hemophilia unit will be in the face of competition from new generation drugs.

The unit accounts for a quarter of the Ireland-based drugmaker’s revenues, but analysts have said that they expect Roche’s Hemlibra, which is now under FDA priority review for a label expansion, will quickly erode much of Shire’s sales, the Financial Times reported. Unlike hemophilia drugs currently on the market, Hemlibra is not expected to require patients to undergo daily or weekly infusions of replacement Factor VIII.

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“We continue to expect Hemlibra to become the new standard of care in the treatment of haemophilia A ... and currently model peak sales of $5 billion for the product,” Jefferies analyst Ian Hilliker, told the newspaper.

RELATED: Opponents to Takeda’s $62B buyout of Shire gain support but need much more

Hemlibra is currently approved only for treating patients who develop factor VIII inhibitors during treatment but Roche is seeking a label expansion to those patients without the inhibitors, a much larger patient population. Data from a recent study showed Hemlibra significantly cut bleeding incidents in those patients.

Adding to its appeal is the fact that Roche has priced Hemlibra at $450,000, a significant discount to Shire’s Adynovate, a long-lasting replacement Factor VIII treatment, which bears a price tag of about $537,000 a year.

RELATED: Roche's Hemlibra, eyeing a big new market, puts up standard-busting bleed data

Weber tried to reassure doubtful investors, the Financial Times said, by insisting that Takeda built the impact from pending competition into its financial model for the deal. 

But they also are worried about the potential for new gene-based treatments under development by Pfizer and others to grab market share if approved. These treatments are designed to fix the genetic problem that underlies the disease. While acknowledging Takeda is not going to be a leader in gene therapy, Weber pointed out the gene technology is complicated to develop, the Financial Times reported.