Taking Takeda global

How Takeda CEO Weber plans to claim top-tier positions in GI, cancer, CNS

Two years after joining Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., Christophe Weber has narrowed the company's therapeutic focus, expanded the executive team and reorganized its approach to market with the aim of transforming the company into a global pharma. If successful, Weber expects that Takeda could claim a position among the top-tier pharmas in at least two of its three therapeutic areas in the next five to 10 years.

When Weber joined as Takeda's first non-Japanese COO in April 2014, the company was an amalgam of small, mid-sized and large acquisitions completed over the prior decade. While the deals have given Takeda a commercial and R&D infrastructure that spanned the globe, the regions continued to operate independently.

"There was no unifying strategy," Weber told BioCentury. "My mandate was to globalize the company."

Weber was previously president and general manager of GlaxoSmithKline plc's GSK Vaccine business and CEO of GSK Biologicals S.A.

Takeda was already reorganizing R&D by consolidating its existing programs into four R&D units instead of six organized by disease area.

Weber, who became president in June 2014 and added the CEO title 10 months later, has since winnowed the pharma's disease focus down to CNS, cancer and gastrointestinal disease.

"In five years, no one should be able to talk about GI, in all aspects of development, and not think about Takeda as a partner for the U.S., for emerging markets - for all commercial aspects. That is the same with oncology and CNS," Weber said.

Weber sold Takeda's respiratory business and pipeline, and spun out or returned other assets. Takeda also discontinued R&D in diabetes, Weber said, because the pharma no longer saw a reasonable ROI given the competitive marketplace.

The resulting pipeline is heavy on candidates with first-in-class potential, and Takeda is already among the top 10 companies by sales in GI and cancer. It has much further to go to catch the leaders in CNS, and will need new assets in all three areas to ensure a steady stream of launches.

On the commercial side, Weber has honed Takeda's organization to make it more agile at responding to local needs in the countries and regions where Takeda operates.

The commercial changes include a new approach to market access. Specifically, in emerging markets, where branded

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