Japanese pharmaceutical company Takeda plans to increase the scale of its vaccines ambitions with the launch next year of a global vaccines division.
The Vaccine Business Division will be led by Dr Rajeev Venkayya, who currently serves as director of vaccine delivery in the Global Health Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Takeda said it expects its acquisition this year of Nycomed and its business infrastructure in Europe and emerging markets to support the global vaccines business expansion.
The company currently has a Haemophilus Influenzae type b (Hib) vaccine in clinical testing and is developing a combination vaccine containing a Sabin-inactivated poliovirus (s-IPV) vaccine, which is likely to play an important role in polio eradication.
The company, which has supplied paediatric vaccines to its domestic market for more than 60 years, is also developing a human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.
The Vaccine Business Division will take over Takeda's on-going efforts to develop paediatric vaccines in-house and enhance the overall R&D pipeline by in-licensing new products and novel technologies.
Takeda said it would also look to pursue viable business opportunities, including alliances to support the global expansion of its vaccine business.
Dr Rajeev Venkayya, who assumes office as the head of the new division on January 15, 2012, currently serves as director of vaccine delivery in at the Bill & Melinda Gates.
He currently oversees the Foundation's efforts in polio eradication and its investment in the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI). Prior to joining the Foundation he was the special assistant to the US President for biodefense.
"While the global vaccine market continues to expand as emerging countries grow, the short supply of affordable vaccines still poses a serious problem. In Japan, the issue of how we should go about ensuring supply of vaccines particularly against emerging infectious threats represents an urgent challenge," said Dr Tadataka Yamada, Takeda's chief medical and scientific officer.
"Going forward, pharmaceutical manufacturers will be expected to play a critical role in addressing these issues and under the leadership of Dr Venkayya, Takeda has taken a step forward in fulfilling its responsibility as a leader in the industry."