Daiichi Sankyo is a leader in the Japanese pharmaceuticals business. The company manufactures prescription drugs, including treatments for cardiovascular, bone and joint, autoimmune, metabolic, and infectious diseases. Top products include Olmetec for hypertension and Loxonin for inflammation. Daiichi Sankyo also makes over-the-counter (OTC) and generic drugs through subsidiaries including Daiichi Sankyo Healthcare and majority owned Ranbaxy Laboratories. Daiichi Sankyo's products are sold through medical representatives and distributors located around the globe.
Japan accounts for about 60% of the company's sales; its other primary markets are North America and Europe. In addition to expanding its sales base in core markets (especially the US), Daiichi Sankyo is widening its product marketing efforts in high-growth regions including certain Latin American and Asian countries. The company also expands its operations through acquisitions, as well as through research and development efforts in areas such as infectious, cardiovascular, and bone/joint diseases, as well as diabetes, cancer, and allergies.
To help expand its sales in the US, Daiichi Sankyo decided to establish a manufacturing presence there as well. In 2011 it paid some $10 million to acquire a packaging and manufacturing facility in Pennsylvania. The plant will be used to package and distribute the company's products marketed in the US.
Daiichi Sankyo laid the groundwork for even more US growth in 2011 when it acquired oncology drug discovery company Plexxikon for $805 million. The purchase of Berkeley, California-based Plexxikon gave Daiichi Sankyo a late-stage oncology drug (PLX4032) being jointly developed with Roche. Other candidates in Plexxikon's portfolio include kinase inhibitors for rheumatoid arthritis and metastatic cancer. The company also moved to enter the vaccines market in 2011 by forming a joint venture with The Kitasato Institute, which is affiliated with Tokyo's Kitasato University.
Daiichi Sankyo's acquisition of an approximate 64% stake in Ranbaxy Laboratories, India's top pharmaceutical firm, in 2008 gave the company a firm foothold in the global generic drug market, where Ranbaxy holds a top 10 position. The $4.1 billion acquisition was conducted through a series of transactions including a public share offering and a stake purchase from Ranbaxy's founding Singh family. Ranbaxy continues to operate as a stand-alone business.
The company, along with development partner Eli Lilly, received FDA approval for blood thinner Effient (prasugrel) in 2009, despite some previous concerns over dosage levels and bleeding issues in the drug's clinical trials. The drug carries a boxed warning for possible fatal bleeding risks. The companies market the drug for use in patients with acute coronary syndrome (narrowed arteries that can cause heart attacks). The drug also received marketing approval in Europe (where it is sold as Efient) in 2008.
Boosting its oncology drug candidate portfolio, in 2008 the company acquired German biotech firm U3 Pharma for $235 million to gain U3's development-stage antibody cancer treatments. Daiichi Sankyo formed a joint venture that year with US research firm ArQule to develop additional cancer candidates.
In 2010 the company appointed a new CEO, Joji Nakayama, who had previously been a VP of Daiichi Sankyo. Former CEO Takashi Shoda became chairman of the company's board of directors. Nakayama will help lead the company in its goal to become an innovative global pharmaceuticals firm.
Daiichi Sankyo was formed when Sankyo purchased rival Daiichi Pharmaceutical for more than $7 billion in 2005. The two companies merged their operations into the newly formed Daiichi Sankyo, creating a top pharmaceutical manufacturer in Japan. Since the merger, the company has focused primarily on prescription and consumer drugs and has been exiting its chemical and animal health operations.