Takeda hopes new blood will boost Chinese ops

Takeda Pharmaceutical Industries is just the latest major drugmaker to announce its aims for big growth in China. But this time, the company isn't looking for triple or even quadruple its current sales in the country. It's looking to boost its Chinese revenues tenfold.

President Yasuchika Hasegawa freely admits that it's been trying for years to increase its annual Chinese sales past $40 million, Bloomberg reports. That's because 50 percent to 60 percent of its local sales force was bailing out every year. That's a huge rate of attrition, even compared with the 10 percent to 20 percent seen at other Chinese companies.

Now, however, Takeda is bringing on a new general manager to run its Beijing-based unit, under the direction of its new Asian chief Haruhiko Hirate, who comes to the company from Merck. Hasegawa seems to think that the personnel changes will solve his Chinese puzzle. "We already have very promising compounds on the market," Hasegawa told the news service. "Those have big potential but because of the poor management that ended up causing high turnover in the sales organization, we couldn't maximize those products' opportunity in China."

To put Takeda's goals in context: Pfizer posted Chinese sales of some $500 million last year, but Goldman Sachs predicts the company will amp that up to $3 billion by 2012, a sixfold increase. Bayer brought in more than $700 million in China last year, up 28 percent from 2008, and is spending big money to launch more products there. And Merck recently announced it would grow its Chinese sales faster than the overall drug market there expands, in other words, more than 20 percent per year.

- read the Bloomberg coverage