Takeda looks to build vaccines business
The initial focus of the Tokyo-based business will be on Asian markets where Takeda has local sales subsidiaries, including China and India, and it will make use of the company's R&D operations in Osaka and Hikari, but “all other operations will be established in Chicago, in anticipation of global development of the vaccine business,” said Takeda spokesman Hisashi Tokinoya. That includes planning and coordination, responsible for mapping mid- and long-term strategy for the unit, and business development, charged with plotting opportunities for global expansion and alliances. The unit will launch with 70 employees, mostly Japan-based vaccine specialists working on R&D.
The new division will be headed by Dr. Rajeev Venkayya, who joins the firm from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where he was director of vaccine delivery in the Global Health Program, overseeing the foundation's polio eradication efforts and investment in the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. He was previously special assistant to the president for biodefense at the White House, in which capacity he headed development and implementation of the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza.
The company has manufactured pediatric vaccines for six decades and is currently working on vaccines for HPV, Haemophilius Influenzae type b (Hib) and polio. Takeda is also “expediting preparations for production and supply” of pandemic flu vaccines.