Japanese drugmaker Takeda has reported a 7% increase in sales for the first nine months of its current fiscal year, helped by double-digit gains for blood pressure drug Blopress and Actos for diabetes.

Sales came in at 935 billion yen ($8bn), as Blopress (candesartan cilexetil) advanced 28% to 149 billion yen and Actos (pioglitazone) rose 2% to 177 billion yen, mainly as a result of gains in Japan and Europe.

Operating income rose to just under 350 billion yen, up 2%, despite a tripling in R&D spend to 116 billion yen and launch costs relating to the introduction of insomnia treatment Rozerem (ramelteon) and Actoplus Met (pioglitazone and metformin) for diabetes in the USA.

On the downside, Takeda’s proton pump inhibitor lansoprazole, sold as Takepron in Japan and in the USA as Prevacid, rose a little over 2% to 296 billion yen over the nine-month period. Lansoprazole has returned to growth in 2005 after suffering a downturn in overseas sales in 2004, particularly on inventory adjustments and competition for over-the-counter versions of AstraZeneca’s Prilosec (omeprazole) in the USA, as well as the latter firm’s prescription follow-up Nexium (esomeprazole).

The renewed fortunes of this drug also reinvigorated Takeda’s joint venture with Abbott Laboratories, TAP Pharmaceuticals, which sells Prevacid in the USA. Earnings at TAP were lifted 27% to 40 billion yen.

Turning to its pipeline, Takeda said it is gearing up to start Phase III trials of sepsis drug TAK-242 in Japan, the USA and Europe, with pivotal trials also ongoing for a new peptic ulcer drug, TAK-390MR and the firm’s dipeptidylpeptidase IV inhibitor for diabetes.