Takeda, Astellas Fall After Report of Drug-Price Cuts in Japan

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. and Astellas Pharma Inc., Japan's largest drugmakers, fell in Tokyo trading on a newspaper report that the health ministry will cut subsidies on prescription medicines.

Branded medicines whose sales were twice as high as predicted and exceeded 15 billion yen ($133 million) in a year will be subject to the biggest government-mandated price cuts, the Nikkei newspaper reported today, without saying where it got the information. Takeda, which makes Blopress, Japan's best- selling blood pressure drug, declined 120 yen, or 1.8 percent, to 6,610 yen on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

The exchange's 34-member Topix Pharmaceutical index has fallen every week since Nov. 28, when a report to a ministerial panel recommended lowering reimbursements to doctors and pharmacists by at least 4.5 percent next year.

Cutting subsidies on prescriptions every two years is part of the government's strategy to trim Japan's 6.9 trillion yen drug bill.

``There is talk that certain medicines for hypertension and depression will be particularly targeted'' in the next round of biennial price cuts, said Kenji Masuzoe, an equities analyst at Deutsche Securities Inc. in Tokyo, in a telephone interview. The list of products that will be targeted may not be released publicly until February or March, he said.

The price ceiling on popular prescription medicines may be lowered by 15 to 25 percent in the year starting April 1, the Nikkei said.

Tokyo-based Astellas, which sells the Micardis hypertension treatment, dropped 90 yen, or 1.8 percent, to 4,890 yen and Daiichi Sankyo Co., which makes the Olmetec blood pressure- lowering medicine, fell 50 yen, or 1.4 percent, to 3,480 yen.

The Topix Pharmaceutical index fell 1.6 percent, with more than five stocks declining for every one that rose. The broader Topix index fell 1.9 percent.

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