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Takeda launches Azilva for blood pressure in Japan

Analysts predict big sales after studies demonstrate drug is more effective than rivals

Takeda Pharmaceutical has launched its once-daily angiotensin II receptor antagonist Azilva as a treatment for high blood pressure in Japan.

Azilva (azilsartan medoxomil) will be made available in two doses - 20mg and 40mg - and will be targeted at patients who struggle to meet their blood pressure targets despite current treatment, according to Takeda.

The company said it expects sales of around 3.5bn yen ($45m) in fiscal 2012, while analysts have predicted that it could achieve sales of $700m or more per year at peak, despite being a later entrant into the crowded angiotensin receptor blocker (ARB) category.

In phase III trials, azilsartan was found to lower blood pressure more effectively than three rival angiotensin II receptor antagonists, namely Novartis' Diovan (valsartan), Takeda's own Blopress (candesartan cilexetil) and Daiichi Sankyo's Benicar/Olmetec (olmesartan).

The key to its success will lie in its superior profile to existing ARBs, and how effectively Takeda can market that message in light of the fact that cheaper, generic alternatives to valsartan and losartan are already available.

"There are about 40m hypertensive patients in Japan, with about half of that number said to be not receiving satisfactory treatment," commented Masato Iwasaki, senior vice president, pharmaceutical marketing at Takeda.

"In the situation where strict management of blood pressure is required for these patients, we believe that Azilva, having strong and persistent hypotensive effects, may offer a new therapeutic option," he added.

The product was launched last year in the US and Europe under the Edarbi brand name, and a line extension formulation called Edarbyclor, which combines azilsartan with the diuretic chlorthalidone, was introduced in the US in April, 2012.

It is the only fixed-dose combination of an ARB and chlorthalidone on the market.

30th May 2012

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