JAPAN'S LARGEST drug company, Takeda Pharmaceutical, is promoting several of its U.S. executives as it transfers decision-making authority for drug development and marketing out of Japan.
The company's global headquarters for drug development will now be Deerfield, Ill., where its North American operations headquarters are located. Takeda says it employs 5,500 people in North America, but does not disclose how many of its U.S. employees are in R&D.
Takeda veteran Alan MacKenzie has been given a new role as head of the firm's marketing, commercial operations, and medical affairs worldwide, except in Japan. MacKenzie has been with Takeda for 24 years and until last month headed the company's North American operations. He will report to Takeda President Yasuchika Hasegawa.
Shinji Honda, whose previous job was to head Takeda's foreign-business planning, will replace MacKenzie as head of North American operations. Nancy Joseph-Ridge, currently in charge of Takeda's R&D operations in the U.S., will assume an expanded role as leader of the company's drug development activities.
Fumiyoshi Sakai, an analyst who covers the Japanese drug and health care sector at Credit Suisse Securities in Tokyo, says Takeda is under intense pressure to come up with new drugs because the patent on its best-selling drug, Actos, will expire in 2011. Actos is prescribed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
Moving drug development responsibility to the U.S. will help the company in its dealings with FDA, whose stamp of approval is critical to the international success of new drugs, Sakai adds. Other leading Japanese drug companies such as Astellas shifted product development responsibility to the U.S. in recent years, he notes. Last month, Takeda suffered a setback when FDA ruled that the company's approval request for the new diabetes drug alogliptin did not contain enough clinical data.
Despite its decision to boost its North American operations, Sakai says, Takeda remains at heart a Japanese company with a relatively limited amount of international business experience. Not that it fundamentally matters, he adds. "At the end of the day, what counts in a drug company is whether you have new products."