As Steep Patent Cliff Looms, Shionogi Moves To Develop Its Own U.S. Sales Staff | 6/11/2019 | Staff
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TOKYO (Reuters) – For much of its 141-year history, Japan’s Shionogi & Co Ltd has played safe when selling its drugs in the United States and other overseas markets – relying on bigger partners to promote its products and avoiding the cost of maintaining a large sales force.

It followed that pattern for blockbuster cholesterol treatment Crestor, its biggest success story, which was developed in-house until mid-stage trials when it teamed up with AstraZeneca Plc . AstraZeneca gained the rights to sell the drug in all markets but Japan.

Shionogi - Japan - Drugmaker - Margin - Risk

But Shionogi, Japan’s most profitable drugmaker by operating margin, has become open to more risk – prodded into seizing more sales for itself by a looming patent cliff that will see a key HIV drug and three combination medicines exposed to generic competition in nine years time.

“We’ll have to increase by a bit the portion of what we sell by ourselves and not just rely on others,” CEO Isao Teshirogi told Reuters in an interview.

Shionogi - Waters - World - Drug - Market

Shionogi tested the waters in the world’s biggest drug market last year with Mulpleta, a drug designed to prevent excessive bleeding in patients who need surgery and have a lower blood platelet count due to chronic liver disease.

It also plans to develop its own U.S. sales team for cefiderocol, an antibiotic it hopes will gain approval this year and which will be used as a last-resort treatment for patients with infectious disease not cured by other antibiotics.

Cefiderocol - Drug - Specialists - Hospitals - US

“Cefiderocol is a drug that will only be used by specialists at big hospitals and across the U.S., we’re only going to need 50 to 70 medical representatives. That makes it a good next entry point for us – something we can do under own steam,” he said.

Shionogi declined to disclose its sales team numbers for Mulpleta, a drug it expects will earn...
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