Takeda drops DTaP/sIPV development to focus on 'higher-impact' programs

Takeda Vaccines head Dr. Rajeev Venkayya

Takeda's in the middle of a reorganization, and one need look no further than its vaccines unit to see its effects. After creating a global specialty unit for the business and tapping a new development head last fall, the pharma now plans to drop a Phase II Diphtheria-Tetanus-acellular Pertussis (DTaP) and Sabin inactivated poliovirus vaccine (sIPV) program in Japan to focus on markets where it can make a bigger splash.

On Monday, the company said it would discontinue development of the candidate, dubbed TAK-361S, instead aiming its R&D resources at "the highest-impact programs for public health"--and those where it doesn't yet have competitors.

"We are committed to addressing the most important challenges in public health--in Japan and around the world," company vaccines president Dr. Rajeev Venkayya said in a statement. "Our highest priority is infectious diseases that threaten the lives of millions of people each year, and for which vaccines do not exist."

Those include maladies such as norovirus and dengue, both of which the Japanese drugmaker is currently working on. While it's expected to pick up some competition in the dengue department--Sanofi ($SNY) is leading the race and expects to launch its weapon against the mosquito-borne illness in some countries by the end of this year--analysts expect Takeda to be giving the French drugmaker a run for its money by 2020. The company expects both prospects to enter Phase III trials in the coming fiscal year, it said.

The portfolio shuffling is all part of a wider plan to make Takeda the "best-in-class company in every aspect" of its business, a mantra Big Pharma has been repeating a lot lately as companies cast off noncore assets to zero in on their strengths. In Takeda's case, new COO Christophe Weber has been leading the shake-up, vowing to improve the company's emerging markets presence and weigh acquisitions as he gears up to take the helm from CEO Yasuchika Hasegawa later this year.

- read Takeda's release

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