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Astellas Pharma five year anniversary: Past success, future thinking

Astellas Pharma five year anniversary: Past success, future thinking


Just five years after its formation through the merger of Fujisawa and Yamanouchi, Astellas has become one of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies in the world. Employing 15,000 people and with annual sales reaching €1,287 million in Europe, Astellas has exceeded all expectations for growth in the past five years and the company’s management team has devised a clear vision to ensure that this success continues in the years to come.
Last Updated: 27-Aug-2010

Just five years after its formation through the merger of Fujisawa and Yamanouchi, Astellas has become one of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies in the world. Employing 15,000 people and with annual sales reaching €1,287 million in Europe, Astellas has exceeded all expectations for growth in the past five years and the company’s management team has devised a clear vision to ensure that this success continues in the years to come. Working to deliver the company’s ethos of CHANGING TOMORROW™ for patients, over the next five years, Astellas will continue to concentrate on four key areas of development:

  • Expanding franchises to fulfil unmet clinical needs
  • Strategic expansion of the company footprint
  • Marketing excellence
  • Making Astellas the pharmaceutical employer of choice

Expanding franchises to fulfil unmet needs
At the time of its creation, Astellas had just two major products: PROGRAF™, a market-leading agent for the prevention of transplant rejection, and OMNIC™ for the treatment of the symptoms of benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). Today, following a strategic expansion plan focused on the company’s core values of innovation and fulfilling unmet needs, Astellas has six franchises spanning important medical needs in both primary and secondary care.

Transplantation – retaining leadership and serving the patient community
An area of continuing innovation, Astellas now offers ADVAGRAF™ and MODIGRAF™ in addition to PROGRAF. Currently launching in countries across Europe at the request of the transplant community, MODIGRAF is the only approved formulation of tacrolimus that is designed to meet the specific needs of paediatric transplant patients. All three Astellas transplantation medicines play a vital role in the prevention of transplant organ rejection and Astellas is investing in its pipeline of potential future immunosuppressant therapies.

Urology – Expanding a market-leading portfolio
Astellas is a Global Category Leader in Urology. Current treatments offered include OMNIC/OMNIC OCAS™/FLOMAXTRA XL™, VESICARE™ and ELIGARD™. VESICARE, for the symptoms of overactive bladder, is an example of how Astellas’ flexible and dynamic sales and marketing operations and ‘can-do’ culture are delivering results for the company. Despite being launched during and immediately after the merger that created Astellas, the new company was able to roll out this innovative product rapidly across Europe. Today it is available in over 25 countries, in nine of which it is the market leader. A comprehensive R&D programme is investigating treatments to tackle unmet needs in BPH/lower urinary tract symptoms, prostate cancer, and overactive bladder.

Dermatology – fundamentally changing the way eczema is managed
Astellas has a unique portfolio which provides a comprehensive range of therapies for the treatment of skin conditions including atopic eczema. Astellas’ PROTOPIC™ was approved in 2009 for twice weekly maintenance therapy to prevent eczema flare ups. The only treatment to hold this indication, PROTOPIC represents a completely new way to treat patients with moderate and severe eczema so that they are able to manage their disease better and to reduce the long-term impact of the disease on their lives.

Anti-Infectives – meeting unmet needs
Astellas is dedicated to developing and marketing new therapeutic options to tackle serious infections for which unmet medical needs exist. Both MYCAMINE™ and VIBATIV™ have recently been made available in selected countries, and their availability will be expanded as regulatory approvals allow. Isavuconazole, a novel water-soluble, broad-spectrum antifungal which Astellas is developing in partnership with Basilea, is currently in Phase III trials for the treatment of severe invasive fungal infections.

Pain Management – a new take on managing neuropathic pain
Astellas has obtained the marketing rights to QUTENZA™, an innovative, long-lasting treatment for peripheral neuropathic pain. Unlike other treatments for this painful and debilitating condition, QUTENZA provides pain relief for up to three months following a single application to the site of pain and is not associated with systemic side effects. , , The product will launch in European countries during 2010 and onwards.

Oncology – a growing portfolio and commitment for the future
Astellas is committed to developing a portfolio of treatments to fulfil unmet needs in Oncology. Recent biotechnology acquisitions are supporting this aim. Already offering ELIGARD for the treatment of locally advanced prostate cancer in selected markets, Phase III trials of MDV3100 for late stage prostate cancer are underway in collaboration with Medivation. Astellas also has two products undergoing Phase II clinical trials for the treatment of renal anaemia.

Strategic growth in sales and footprint
In terms of sales, size and geographical reach, Astellas has shown consistent growth over the past five years; a period in which many pharmaceutical companies have struggled in a shifting and increasingly competitive market place. Sales for 2008/9 were 10% higher than sales for the previous year.

Driven by a clear vision of the future, the company’s management team has acted with both prudence and agility to harness growth opportunities around the world. With a flexible attitude towards expansion, designed to maximise efficiency and support the development on long-term relationships and sustainable operations, Astellas Europe now has a robust presence across EU and Eastern European countries.

Typical of Astellas’ flexible approach to expansion is the company’s recent activities in the Baltic. Based on expertise developed through successful partnerships with organisations in Romania and Bulgaria, the company has recently opened offices dedicated to spearheading growth in these regions. Furthermore, Astellas has built successful partnerships in the emerging markets of the Middle East, North Africa, India, China and Brazil.

Growth drivers – marketing excellence and employer of choice
Key to the company’s growth has been its dual commitments to achieving excellence in sales and marketing and to becoming an employer of choice. As a smaller, more agile pharmaceutical company Astellas has been able to act decisively to attract and retain top talent in the fields of sales and marketing and to encourage innovation and excellence in these fields. The results of this commitment have been evident, not only in the sales results achieved by the company, but by the number of awards received in the last five years, including:

  • 2010 Pharmaceutical Marketing Effectiveness Awards (PMEA) Company of the Year
  • 2010 Pharmatimes European Marketing Company of the Year (Gold)
  • 2005 Scrip Speed to Market Award for VESICARE
Astellas’ drive towards becoming an employer of choice is an ongoing initiative which has already seen the realisation of some significant developments. These include an extensive staff training programme with specific leadership development elements, high impact internal communications activities and staff surveys which enable every employee to have input into the evolution of the company.

Looking forward to a bright future: VISION 2015
VISION 2015 is Astellas’ clear and strategically aligned vision of how the company will develop over the next five years. By 2015 Astellas aims to become a Global Category Leader in several therapeutic categories, based on the company’s six franchises, where high unmet patient needs remain and a high degree of expertise is required. In order to do this, Astellas will introduce and market innovative, reliable pharmaceutical products that will help to improve peoples’ lives around the world.

Since VISION 2015 was introduced in 2006, Astellas has made significant progress towards achieving its goals. The company has already reached Global Category Leader status in the fields of Transplantation and Urology. Top-class and well-resourced R&D operations as well as recent strategic agreements and acquisitions have combined to build the potential of Astellas’ offerings across all six franchises.

Over the next five years Astellas will focus on leveraging its unique qualities as a young, forward-thinking company to drive forwards the progress made in the past five years:

  • Franchise expansion: Astellas will continue to evolve and expand the six franchises and drive each towards a leadership position.
  • Prudent market expansion: Astellas will expand into new markets through carefully considered partnerships and the establishment of new offices. Expansion activity will focus on the Middle East, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Marketing excellence: Astellas will constantly re-assess and build on its existing marketing expertise to maintain a competitive edge and strive towards category leadership.
  • Employer of choice: Astellas will strive to become a global employer of choice, attracting, growing and retaining the leaders and innovators of tomorrow.