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Astellas moves into oncology

Astellas Pharma Europe has confirmed that it will continue its emphasis on transplantation and urology while also making moves into oncology

Astellas Pharma Europe has confirmed that it will continue its emphasis on transplantation and urology while also making moves to build a strong presence in oncology.

Masao Yoshida, president and CEO of Astellas, said: "Our vision at Astellas is focused on changing tomorrow for patients. The last five years have been a remarkable success, adding innovative medicines to our portfolio, which tackle key areas of unmet medical need."

Yoshida continued: "We are committed to continuing to bring our vision to life and it is very exciting for the company to begin to focus on the area of oncology."

Oncology will become Astellas Europe's sixth franchise focus in addition to its other key areas: transplantation, urology, dermatology, anti-infectives and pain management.

Its prostate cancer therapy Eligard (leuprolide acetate) is already available in selected markets and initial steps towards expanding capability have begun with the acquisition of Agensys Inc – a biotech subsidiary of Astellas that is developing a pipeline of antibodies to treat a range of solid tumour cancers.

Astellas is also in the process of bidding for OSI Pharmaceuticals, which would also expand its oncology portfolio by giving the Japanese drugmaker its first marketed cancer drug, Tarceva (erlotinib) – a lung tumour treatment.

Astellas originally placed an unsolicited bid of $3.5bn for OSI in March, but this may be increased following the recent FDA expanded approval to use Tarceva as an initial maintenance therapy against locally advanced or metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer.

Astellas has achieved robust growth since its formation from the merger of Fujisawa and Yamanouchi in 2005, expanding its reach into new therapeutic areas and achieving category leadership status in urology and transplantation in Europe.

20th April 2010

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