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Forging a path in specialty care

Takeda’s Marc Princen on the company’s plans to build a reputation in oncology, gastroenterology and vaccine

Takeda Marc Princen

Change is the name of the game in most pharmaceutical companies as they struggle to adapt to the new, post-blockbuster world. Thin pipelines, increasing price pressures, tough regulators and fierce generic competition mean the business principle 'adapt or die' has never been more relevant. When the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said 'Change is the only constant' he could have been talking about early 21st century pharma.

At Takeda they've gone one step further. They're completely transforming the company. In business, transformation is 'a process of profound and radical change that orients an organisation in a new direction and takes it to an entirely different level of effectiveness'. That's precisely their aim. They're moving from a primary care focus to speciality care. So the company with a reputation in diabetes and cardiovascular is aiming to become known for oncology and gastroenterology, with vaccines not far behind.

Leading the transformation is president of Takeda's Europe and Canada Region, Marc Princen. He joined the company from MSD in November 2014 and he's excited by the task, and the process.

“Speciality care requires that we have different capabilities in order to reach a more specific group of medical specialists. In particular it requires strong Medical Affairs and Market Access, supported by the latest digital engagement platforms. Building up these capabilities is the key to success in our new areas. We've already made key appointments in these areas and we're still recruiting for new talent who play an important role in the specialty care setting. One of the great strengths at Takeda is our people, and that's why this is such an exciting time. We need the right mix of external recruitment and development of the people we already have. The learning and growth opportunities for new and existing people in these areas is enormous.

One way we are meeting these new challenges, is by expanding the depth of key account management

“Shifting the focus from primary care to speciality care has meant that we have had to change our priorities to address new internal and external challenges, such as a more complex stakeholder landscape and new digital technologies which enable broader engagement, higher connectivity and better understanding of patients and their needs. One way we are meeting these new challenges, is by expanding the depth of key account management, which provide a more effective way of interacting with a developed healthcare economy, as well as bolstering the digital systems that drive customer-focus. This approach encourages the development of long-term relationships with strategic customers whose clinical and non-clinical needs are understood in-depth, and therefore are able to offer a tailored approach that demonstrates an advantage over the other competitors.”

Takeda's got off to a flying start with important speciality care products. Adcetris (for Hodgkin Lymphoma), Entyvio (for ulcerative colitis and Crohn's Disease) and future compound Ninlaro (an oral protease inhibitor for relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma) which was approved by the FDA in November and is currently under review by the European Medicines Agency. The last two products were developed in-house. “Our scientists developed these last two exceptional new compounds providing a blueprint for the future. Innovative products addressing genuine unmet needs define the shape of the speciality care company we are becoming.”

In recent years the Europe and Canada region has been a prime mover in the financial performance of the 230-year-old Japanese company. Princen is determined to keep it there. Globally, the company is aiming to launch five new products over the next five years, and is promising strong annual growth in the region during that time. In his region, he estimates that more than 90% of the growth will be from speciality medicines. That's higher than anywhere else in Takeda. In North America, for example, the figure is just over 50%, and it's about 25% in Asia. So Europe/Canada will set the pace in the transformation towards specialty. “The European region is the second largest pharma market in the world, and we are ideally placed to take advantage of all the changes we have identified. That's another reason this is such an exciting place to be, at an exciting time.”

In recent years Takeda has joined in the industry's enthusiasm for mergers and acquisitions, notably of Millennium in Boston, Massachusetts and Nycomed headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. The former, now known as Takeda Oncology, gave the company an instant presence in oncology, and the latter increased its European reach at a stroke. Around the world they've launched in a number of new markets, including Israel, which comes under Princen's remit …a strange geographical choice.

“Geography is not always the determining factor. What is important is the similarity between markets, and where people can benefit most in terms of best practice. Israel is a very innovative country with a lot of people with ideas, so it is much closer to Western developed countries than anything else. That's why we're happy to embrace it within our region.”

The big challenges for Takeda are the same as those facing every pharmaceutical, biologics and vaccine company. Getting a good price for their new medicines is top of the list. Princen is bullish on this point. “Europe has demonstrated a willingness to reimburse innovation especially if there's a patient need, and an exceptional treatment for addressing it. The best example is Entyvio. It meets both of those criteria. We've launched it in 15 markets in Europe and it's already been reimbursed in 14 of them. We will launch in more than 10 new markets in 2016 and the need for this drug is supported by the fact that already 30,000 patients are benefiting from treatment.”

So what does Takeda's focus on speciality care mean for the company's traditional primary care business? “It's still important. We have a broad-based business in primary care and in many countries our products are the standard of care. Globally, we're aiming to maintain and even increase the profitability over time. This is particularly true in emerging markets, where health systems are beginning to use our medicines more and more. In Europe and Canada our growth will come from speciality care and this drives the reorganisation of our business. Our medicines are becoming more and more important to these health systems and the patients they help. In order to deliver our speciality medicines to more patients in Europe we need to foster and develop the best talent in market access, medical affairs and digital specialists. We have a growth trajectory to be excited about and great medicines that address a real patient need. That's our heritage, and our future.”

Article by
John Clare

is a journalist and chief executive of LionsDen Communications

15th February 2016

From: Research



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