Takeda Pharmaceutical, Japan’s largest drugmaker, said this morning that sales for the first half of its fiscal year rose 7% to 642 billion yen ($5.42bn), driven by a 45% increase in revenues for diabetes drug Actos.

Actos (pioglitazone) and related products brought in 49.7 billion yen, and this performance prompted Takeda to hike its financial guidance for the year. It now expects profits to climb 11% to 540 billion yen for the year ended March 31, 2007, having earlier predicted little advance over the previous year.

Actos did well in the USA, with sales up 37% to $1.15 billion with the increase “mainly attributable to the introduction of Medicare Part D which has promoted the growth of the oral antidiabetic drug market.” It was also helped by the introduction of the combination product Actoplus Met (pioglitazone plus metformin) in the USA

Operating profit advanced nearly 10% to 236 billion, although net income fell 12% to 22 billion yen due to a 57 billion yen corrective tax payment that had to be made in Japan to reconcile a discrepancy relating to transactions between Takeda and its US joint venture Takeda Abbott Pharmaceuticals.

Among its other key product, blood pressure drug Blopress (candesartan cilexetil) posted an 8% increase in sales to 101 billion yen, with gastrointestinal drug Takepron (lansoprazole) rising 11% to 77 billion yen - despite the loss of patent protection in some European markets - and sales of prostate cancer treatment Leuplin (leuprorelin) were flat at 62 billion yen.

New products Rozerem (ramelteon) for sleeping disorders, which was launched in the USA last September, and Amitiza (lubiprostone) for constipation which debuted in April, contributed $33 million and $13 million, respectively, to US turnover.

A strong performance outside Japan, where drugmakers have been hit by government price reductions, has insulated Takeda from some of the troubles affecting its peers which are more reliant on the domestic market.