Takeda offloads some non-core assets in Asia Pacific to Celltrion

Takeda said Thursday that it has agreed to divest a portfolio of select non-core over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription products sold exclusively in Asia Pacific to Celltrion for $266 million upfront in cash, plus up to $12 million more in potential milestones. The portfolio generated net sales of approximately $140 million in 2018, driven by strong sales of the diabetes drug Nesina (alogliptin) and the hypertension treatment Edarbi (azilsartan medoxomil), Takeda noted.

Specifically, the portfolio includes various OTC and prescription products in the cardiovascular, diabetes and general medicine therapeutic areas, sold predominantly in Australia, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

Ricardo Marek, who heads Takeda's growth and emerging markets division, said that across these markets, "Takeda must focus on accelerating the commercial availability of our highly innovative medicines for patients living with complex and rare conditions." He added that "while we remain committed to Asia Pacific, and the emerging markets, divesting non-core products helps achieve those goals."

Cutting post-Shire debt load

Takeda has pledged to dispose of $10 billion in non-core assets following its $62-billion purchase of Shire, completed last year, which left it saddled with $31 billion in debt.

Prior to the latest divestiture, the Japanese drugmaker had already offloaded $7.7 billion in non-core assets, with the most recent deal, announced in April, being the sale of OTC and prescription products marketed in Europe to Orifarm for about $670 million. Takeda has also sold the dry-eye drug Xiidra (lifitegrast) to Novartis for $5.3 billion, as well as offloaded other products in different markets to Acino, Hypera Pharma and Stada Arzneimittel.

Japanese OTC assets next?

Meanwhile, a report last month indicated that Takeda is looking to sell its Japanese OTC business for around JPY 400 billion yen ($3.7 billion), while CEO Christophe Weber said during the drugmaker's recent earnings call that "we are not an OTC company."

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