Celltrion said that it has acquired the business rights for 18 brands of Takeda Pharmaceutical in the Asia-Pacific region for 332 billion won ($278 million).
The company will complete the acquisition through its subsidiary in Singapore and expects to complete the process within the fourth quarter of this year after receiving approval from regional regulators.
Under the accord, Celltrion is set to secure business rights related to the products ranging from patents to trademarks and sales rights in nine markets, including Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, and Australia. Acquired products include Nesina and Actos (diabetes treatments), Edarbi (hypertension treatment), Whituben (cold medicine), Albothyl (stomatitis treatment).
"The company expects stable growth of Nesina and Edarbi in particular as their material patents will remain valid until 2026 and 2027, respectively," the company said. "Celltrion plans to use Takeda's current manufacturers for a while to ensure stable production. After completing the technology transfer process, we are planning to manufacture these products in Celltrion's current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) plant."
Through the acquisition, Celltrion seeks to stabilize the local supply of medication for diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia, as well as accelerate its push into the global market, the company added.
Celltrion Vice Chairman Kee Woo-sung said, "Our acquisition of Takeda's Asia-Pacific product categories will also contribute to promoting the public health and ensuring the financial stability of national health insurance by localizing treatments for diabetes and hypertension products, which have heavily relied on foreign pharmaceutical firms."
Kee added that it would also serve as a bridgehead for Celltrion's growth to become a global biopharmaceutical firm.
However, unionized workers at Takeda took issue with their company’s early retirement program (EPR) involving employees engaged in the primary care business to be sold off to Celltrion.
Takeda’s labor union said negotiations between Celltrion and Takeda did not include an employee buyout clause, pointing out that all employees affected by the deal will be subject to ERP.
According to the trade union, about 270 people are working at Takeda Korea, and the ERP will apply to 80 to 100 employees. Contrast to the union's claim, Takeda Korea stated that the ERP will only apply to 70 of its employees.
“When the company sold off a part of its business unit in the past, there was always an employee buyout clause,” the union said in a position paper sent to Korea Biomedical Review. “However, the company did not include the clause this time around, and it seems intentional that the company is conducting ERP only in Korea.”
The union pointed out that CEO Moon Hee-seok had turned a blind eye to this issue.
"The company did not put forth any measures for the employees and just offered ERP as its only option," a union member said. "Such an act shows that the company views its employees as expendables."
The union plans to respond to the company in line with legal procedures, the union said.