Astellas Pharma is weighing up the possibility of selling its dermatology portfolio, which could be worth between $500 million and $1 billion, according to a report published by Reuters.

The news agency cites three unnamed people familiar with the situation, two of whom state that the Japanese drugmaker has hired London-based investment banking group DC Advisory to sell the assets. Its dermatology portfolio is led by the eczema drug Protopic (tacrolimus).

Reuters adds that one of its sources said Astellas is discussing breaking up the business and selling the pieces to different parties to generate a greater premium. Another said that such a move makes sense particularly because the US patent for Protopic is set to expire next year.

At the time of going to press, Astellas had not made any comment.