February 1, 2018 / 7:24 AM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 2-Japan's Takeda raises profit estimate on cancer drug sales

* Hikes full-year op profit outlook to 219 bln yen from 200 bln

* Cites higher sales of cancer drug Velcade

* Posts almost 60 pct jump in Q3 operating profit to 87.9 bln yen

* Strong 9-mth sales of digestive disease drugs Entyvio, Takecab (Adds executive’s comment)

By Sam Nussey

TOKYO, Feb 1 (Reuters) - Takeda Pharmaceutical Co lifted its estimate of annual profit to the highest in six years, boosted by stronger sales of cancer drug Velcade, while bowel disease drug Entyvio’s sales growth helped it clock a jump in quarterly earnings.

Takeda, Japan’s largest drugmaker by sales, has been focusing its research on developing treatments for cancer and diseases of the digestive and nervous systems.

Sales of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease drug Entyvio jumped 45.5 percent year on year to 149.5 billion yen ($1.37 billion) in the nine months to December.

“We still see a strong overall market share dynamic with Entyvio capturing approximately 25 percent of new biologic starts in (ulcerative colitis) patients in the U.S.,” Takeda’s Chief Financial Officer James Kehoe said on a conference call.

Entyvio’s drug application has been submitted to Japanese regulators and is undergoing a phase III study in China, he added.

Sales of heartburn and ulcer drug Takecab also grew strongly, up 70.5 percent on a year earlier to 42 billion yen in the nine months to December.

The drug faces a price cut in Japan in April due to rival treatment Nexium’s sales topping 100 billion yen - putting both in line for price cuts. The size of the reduction is not yet known, the company said.

Takeda forecast an operating profit of 218.7 billion yen for the current financial year ending in March, versus its prior forecast of 200 billion yen.

The new forecast, which would put its operating profit at the highest since the year ending March 2012, compares with a consensus estimate of 225 billion yen from 13 analysts.

The revision was driven by higher expected sales of Velcade, which is used to treat multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer. A U.S. court last year upheld Takeda’s patent, giving the drugmaker rights to exclusively sell the drug until 2022.

Velcade sales grew 4.1 percent to 107.9 billion yen in the nine months to December.

For the third quarter ended December, Takeda’s operating profit jumped almost 60 percent to 87.9 billion yen. Two analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters had forecast an average estimate of around 51 billion yen.

Last month, Takeda said it would pay about $646 million for Belgian biotech group TiGenix NV whose drug Cx601, a stem cell therapy for Crohn’s disease - an inflammatory bowel disease - is moving towards approval in Europe. ($1 = 109.4600 yen) (Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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