Shire has opened an office in Japan which will serve as the base for “the future commercialisation of its pipeline products in the second largest biopharmaceutical market in the world”.

Explaining the rationale behind the move, Sylvie Gregoire, president of Shire’s Human Genetic Therapies unit, said that “the unique regulatory, clinical and cultural characteristics of the Japanese market require an early investment in infrastructure to maximize the potential in this strategically important region”. She added that "through the opening of this new office, “we have taken a significant step toward increasing our presence in this market”.

Shire noted that it currently has numerous therapies available in Japan through strategic partnerships and it plans to “continue exploring additional opportunities for growth throughout the Asia Pacific region”. The company has hired Soh Fujiwara as managing director for Japanese operations, who has spent more than 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry, much of which has been spent on developing products for rare diseases.

It also seems as though Shire will be looking for “opportunities” not only out east. Speaking on a conference call at the end of last week, chief executive Angus Russell said the company will adopt an "aggressive approach” and is looking at potential deals in five undisclosed therapeutic areas.

"We're looking at these assets in a lot of detail, and given the current climate, we have a lot of opportunities going forward," he said. Given the specialised nature of Shire’s business, Mr Russell added that the firm is unlikely to face much competition for its targets.

Shire is seen in many quarters as a takeover target and the CEO said “I recognise we're a medium-sized business and there are bigger companies out there." However he added that it’s not something I sit around hoping for, no. I’m not desirous of being taken over”, claiming that Shire can “sustain and grow this business on our own”.