Takeda continues post-Shire selloff to the benefit of Korean biopharma Celltrion, says GlobalData

South Korea-based bio/pharma company Celltrion has recently agreed to acquire a portfolio of 18 prescription pharmaceutical products and over-the-counter medicines across the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region for US$278.3m from Japan-based drug giant Takeda. This acquisition by Celltrion is part of Takeda’s massive divestment program to help release it from its crippling debt from its recent US$62bn Shire acquisition at the beginning of 2019. This acquisition will allow Celltrion to expand its portfolio into the small molecule pharmaceutical market within APAC, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

The acquired product portfolio which includes Nesina, Edarbi, Actos and over-the-counter medicines that generated sales of US$140m in FY2018 within APAC territories, represents approximately 17% of Celltrion’s total revenues. The divestment of this product portfolio is part of Takeda’s plan to divest US$10bn of its non-core products and to balance its debt by the year 2022. This despite Takeda 2019 annual sales having increased by 56% from 2018 due to the Shire acquisition and a predicted continual compound annual growth of 6.2% over the next six years.

Since its acquisition of Shire, Takeda has made a constant headway in its divesture strategy which has helped it to generate JPY968bn (US$9.3bn) from operations and divestitures enabled debt repayment of JPY701bn (US$6.5bn) in 2019 as compared to the divestiture goal of US$10bn to pare back the debt.

Currently the Celltrion biologics portfolio is comprised of three biosimilars and a biologic, along with 37 generics that are marketed within the APAC geography. Celltrion also has a strong manufacturing base, with three facilities in South Korea capable of manufacturing both biological and solid dose products.

According to GlobalData’s Pharma Intelligence Center, there are two innovator small-molecules in Celltrion’s pipeline; ­CTG-11 (Phase I) and CTG-20 (Phase I), both of which are in the cardiovascular portfolio.

Bhavani Nelavelly, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, says: “The acquisition of the Takeda portfolio will give Celltrion the opportunity to enter the lucrative small-molecules market in cardiovascular and metabolic disease areas.

“This acquisition will allow Celltrion to establish itself as a key provider of both biologic and small-molecule products to the largest growing market in the world. In addition, the deal allows Celltrion to provide essential drugs for chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes for which many patients depend upon imported drugs.”

Quentin Horgan, Drug Analyst at GlobalData, says: This acquisition; the first key acquisition of any foreign assets by Celltrion, is another indication of the strength of South Korean biologics and biopharma companies. That has been on the rise since last year when South Korea became only the seventh country to be placed on the EU’s whitelist of countries approved for GMP API imports. The industry as well is currently being pioneered by President Jae-in Moon who last year announced a plan to invest more than KRW2 trillion (US$1.7bn) in the next five years as part of a plan to make the country a leader in biotechnology and biopharmaceuticals.”

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