Takeda maps out obesity strategy as it confronts blockbuster loss

Faced with the looming loss of patent protection on Actos, the world's top-selling diabetes drug, Japan's Takeda has mapped out a drug development strategy that relies heavily on a new generation of therapies for "lifestyle diseases." And with the ranks of the world's overweight adults projected to grow 75 percent in the next five years, Takeda's top planning honcho tells Bloomberg that he sees plenty of fresh opportunity for new and better therapies that deal with the health consequences of obesity.

Takeda's best near-term pipeline program is a blood pressure drug--azilsartan medoxomil--now before the FDA. Alogliptin, a new diabetes therapy that could make it to the market by 2012 after meeting the FDA's demand for a new trial, figures prominently in Takeda's development schedule. TAK-875 is one step back in mid-stage studies for diabetes and there's a promising obesity drug the Japanese pharma company licensed from Amylin in a $1 billion pact that's also in Phase II.

"Lifestyle diseases are still an unmet medical need," Masato Iwasaki, the head of Takeda's planning ops, told Bloomberg. So are cancer and brain disorders, which also figure prominently in the pharma company's future. The Actos franchise crumbles in January, leaving Takeda with a very narrow margin for error as it pushes ahead in the clinic.

Takeda also isn't restricting itself to its slate of ongoing pipeline projects. The company reportedly told a Japanese newspaper back in early July that it would add more than $1.5 billion in fresh capital to fund new acquisitions. While obesity represents a tempting target, it's also an enormously risky field. No new obesity drugs have been approved in the past decade.

- here's the report from Bloomberg