Takeda sets aside $15B for U.S. buys after topsy-turvy R&D week: FT

Takeda has had something of a busy start to September after ditching an option on an early-stage drug development pact with MacroGenics. On Monday it announced it was to essentially allow PRA Health to run much of its clinical ops and even move hundreds of its staff over to the CRO.

Now, according to reports from the Financial Times, Takeda has built up a $15 billion M&A war chest to use for U.S. acquisitions.

This comes during a major shift in its R&D philosophy, which has seen it drop some programs and buy in more deeply into others as it wants to run first-in-class GI, oncology, vaccines and CNS projects.

Back in July, Andy Plump, Takeda’s CMO and CSO, said the company’s goal was to “become the best R&D organization in our industry,” but said that in order to do this, it needs to “first build new capabilities and embrace new ways of working.”

This includes trimming back across some research areas, i.e., those outside of the four-core focus, as well as doubling down its geographic efforts on its native Japan and the U.S., two of the world’s biggest pharma markets.

Takeda has struggled with profitability in recent years, with its last major deal going back to 2011 when it shelled out nearly $14 billion for Swiss biotech Nycomed.

The FT reports that Japan’s biggest pharma has told investors that it wants to buy U.S. companies that will fit in with its new R&D focus, and “has set aside $10bn to $15bn for acquisitions,” which could go toward one large deal or several smaller ones, the people said as quoted by the financial paper.

“One investor in Takeda said the group had said it could stretch to $20bn for the right assets,” the report added.

Takeda is also under pressure from a looming loss of its U.S. patent on its top-selling blood cancer drug Velcade (bortezomib), with further losses expected after 2020 from a host of other meds.

Takeda is not currently commenting on the report.