As Shire deal inches forward, Takeda touts growth from its own new drugs

Takeda HQ
Takeda's growth units posted a total first-half sales increase of 9.8% over the same period last year. (Takeda)

Takeda is eager to close its Shire deal and begin taking the specialty pharma under its wing, but for now the company is touting a few strengths in its own business. What's it bragging about? Stronger-than-expected Velcade sales and cost controls that helped boost first-half earnings, for two.

The multiple myeloma blockbuster, a huge contributor to Takeda's sales, continued its decline but fell less than expected. And its newer drugs helped drive an increase in first-half sales.

The company highlighted a 9.8% hike in sales for its designated growth fields—gastrointestinal diseases, oncology, neuroscience and emerging markets—for the first half of its fiscal year. Standouts included the GI drug Entyvio, with a 33% sales jump. Takeda's Velcade follow-up in multiple myeloma, Ninlaro, grew by an even bigger margin, 38%. And its fellow cancer meds Adcetris and Inclusig push upward by 15.7% and 32% respectively.

Those meds are helping to fill the gap created by Velcade's inevitable decline, which has turned out to be gentler than expected. Even though Velcade lost U.S. patent protection last year, it's been holding its own against generic competition. Fresenius Kabi launched a copycat this year, and Takeda expects another generic rollout in March 2019.

RELATED: Takeda tags another Shire drug for sale to win key nod for $62B deal

For now, thanks to Velcade's upside, Takeda raised its overall profit forecast for the fiscal year ending in March to 189 billion yen ($1.67 billion) from a previous projection of 139 billion yen ($1.23 billion). Overall, Takeda grew sales in the first half increased by 4.2% to 880 billion yen ($7.76 billion).

All of the developments come as Takeda works to close its massive Shire buyout, inked last year in an effort to build the company’s global scale, make up for Velcade's slide and add to Takeda’s late-stage pipeline. So far, the Japanese drugmaker has picked up deal approvals from authorities in the U.S., Japan and China, but it’s still seeking European approval. The company this week tagged a late-stage Shire inflammatory bowel disease drug for sale after the close.

In a Wednesday statement, Takeda CEO Christophe Weber said the company is “confident that the acquisition of Shire will enable Takeda to significantly accelerate its transformational journey to become a global, values-based, R&D-driven, biopharmaceutical leader headquartered in Japan."

Takeda is expecting $1.4 billion in annual savings three years after the deal closes.