Japanese majors Astellas Pharma and Daiichi Sankyo have published their financials for the fiscal year ended March 2007 but the figures from neither firm have caused much excitement.

Astellas says that net income climbed 26.7% 27 percent to 131.29 billion yen, though the rise was principally due to the divestment of its over-the-counter business Zepharma and the sale of investment securities. Total sales reached 920.64 billion yen, an increase of nearly 4.7%.

Growth was driven by sales of the immunosuppressant Prograf (tacrolimus), which was up 20.2% to 175.4 billion yen, although Harnal (tamsulosin) for benign prostatic hyperplasia, sold as Omnic in Europe and Flomax in the USA, fell 7.8% to 127 billion yen after struggling to overcome both a price cut and generic competition. Vesicare (solifenacin) for overactive bladder leapt 144.3% to 36.2 billion yen while the antifungal agent Funguard/Mycamine (micafungin) had sales of 16.5 billion yen, an increase of 8.2%. Astellas also reported that sales of the cholesterol blockbuster Lipitor (atorvastatin), which it markets in Japan in collaboration with the product's originator Pfizer, edged up 3.4% to 94.7 billion yen.

For the fiscal year ending March 2008, Astellas has forecast that net income will rise 15.8% to 152 billion yen, helped by cuts in its workforce (early retirement will be offered to 6% of its Japanese staff in the coming months), while sales are expected to rise 5.1% to 968 billion yen. There is some concern about the fact that Prograf’s US patent expires next April and the need to reduce the firm’s reliance on the product, but the good news for the company is that there is no sign of a competitor on the market yet.

Price cuts and charges hurt Daiichi Sankyo

As for Daiichi Sankyo, net income fell 10% to 78.5 billion yen and sales were flat at 929.5 billion yen. The company said that the results were affected by one-time restructuring charges and Japanese government-mandated price cuts of pharmaceuticals. More pleasing for the firm was the performance of the antihypertensive agent Benicar/Olmetec (olmesartan), in Japan and Europe, which rose 73.5% to 160.3 billion yen, while the antibiotic levofloxacin, sold in Japan as Cravit, was up 2.6% to 16.4 billion yen.

However, exports of bulk pravastatin, the cholesterol-lowerer which is sold in Japan as Mevalotin, fell 34.7% following the loss of patent protection for the drug in the USA by licensee Bristol-Myers Squibb. For the next fiscal year, net income is forecast to reach 92 billion yen on sales of 837 billion yen.