Takeda's U.K. unit brings sales force in-house to boost efforts in oncology, IBD

Takeda UK's Wooburn Green headquarters--Courtesy of Takeda

Takeda wants to get the ball rolling on some ambitious growth plans in 2016, and the company is bringing its U.K. sales force in-house to help it along the way.

Starting in June, Takeda UK will gather all of its sales teams under one roof, taking the reins from Ashfield Healthcare, which has managed the unit's sales force since 2004. The switch will impact 70 sales members including those on teams for oncology and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Takeda UK said in a statement. Those contract sales reps will become Takeda employees, doubling the number of Takeda staffers in the U.K.

"If you look at the way our business is evolving, we're moving into a role as a secondary care specialist for oncology and IBD," Cressida Ward, Takeda UK's communications director, told FiercePharmaMarketing. "In terms of the growth we're seeing throughout, it makes sense for us all to be under the Takeda umbrella."

The move comes as Takeda beefs up its efforts in areas including oncology, gastrointestinal diseases and diabetes in an attempt to recoup after losing patent protection--and as a result, sales--for its blockbuster diabetes drug, Actos. But the company is headed for bigger and better things, new CEO Christophe Weber has pledged, with recent launches and a bigger global presence driving growth.

Takeda's inflammatory bowel disease drug Entyvio could play a key role in the company's turnaround plan, Weber said last year, forecasting $2 billion in peak sales for the med. Still, Entyvio faces competition from well-established brands including AbbVie's ($ABBV) Humira, Amgen's ($AMGN) Enbrel and Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Remicade and follow-up med, Simponi.

The company's obesity med Contrave, which it markets with partner Orexigen ($OREX), could theoretically lend a hand, too. Last year, Takeda put 900 sales reps behind a launch for the drug. But that investment might not be worth it, RBC Capital Markets analyst Simos Simeonidis wrote recently in a note to investors, as Vivus' ($VVUS) competing med Qsymia hauled in more Q3 revenue with only 50 reps promoting the product.

- here's Takeda UK's statement (PDF)