The UK’s Economic Times reported today that the troubled Indian generic drug manufacturer Ranbaxy may shed as many as 400 jobs from its various divisions. Most of the persons receiving pink slips will be senior and middle management who are likely losing their jobs because of ongoing serious drug manufacturing problems that have plagued the company for over three years. The drug maker employs about 14, 600 people in 43 countries.
While the job cuts do not represent a significant percentage of Ranbaxy’s workforce, Daiichi Sankyo which owns the company, is likely eliminating members of the management team that have been responsible for the company’s ongoing manufacturing problems. According to the Economic Times article
“On Thursday, some senior executives from the finance department at Ranbaxy were asked to leave. On Friday, some senior executives from the Research & Development wing were given marching orders,” an employee familiar with the job cuts told ET. Another executive said some officials from the API(active pharma ingredient) division have also been handed pink slips.
Ranbaxy is one of the world’s leading generic drug manufactures and the company’s ongoing manufacturing problems have certainly hurt Daiichi Sankyo’s image. Also, it has led some analyst to question whether or not Daiichi Sankyo ought to have purchased the troubled generic manufacturer for $4.6 billion in 2008.
Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Japan’s largest pharmaceutical manufacturer, announced that it has agreed to buy Cambridge MA-based Millennium Pharmaceuticals for $8.8 billion. Millennium, founded in 1993 by high profile MIT researchers and once heralded as one the most innovative American biotechnology companies, never lived up to analyst’s expectations. That said, the company did develop and win regulatory approval for an anti-cancer drug, Velcade, which is expected to garner additional approval for wider use in oncology later this year.
Velcade, which is used to treat relapsed multiple myeloma after other drugs fail generated more than $800 million last year. Millennium anticipates U.S. approval by June to promote Velcade as an initial therapy to treat these disorders. Millennium markets Velcade in the US and shares revenue with Johnson & Johnson which markets Velcade in 85 other countries. Analysts predict that the Takeda acquisition will help to propel Velcade to blockbuster status.
The Takeda-Millennium deal follows Eisai Co.’s (another Japanese company) agreement in December to buy the U.S.’s MGI Pharma Inc. for $3.9 billion as Japanese companies, aided by a weak dollar against the yen, seek growth abroad. Japanese companies have been hampered by government-ordered price cuts, weak pipelines and a lack of new products As one financial analyst put it “There’s no doubt the weak dollar against the yen is making U.S. biotech very attractive right now to potential Japanese buyers,”
Takeda’s best seller is the diabetes drug Actos which is slated to lose patent protection in the near future. Acquisition of Millennium provides Takeda with an entrée into the oncology and cardiovascular markets both of which are poised for expansive growth in the next five years. Analysts also believe that the Millennium acquisition will boost Takeda’s drug discovery and development flow. Millennium is conducting human trials with experimental drugs for cancer, heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders and rheumatoid arthritis.