A Japanese pharmaceutical company has bought Bozeman-based LigoCyte Pharmaceuticals for $60 million.

Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. and its subsidiary, Takeda America Holdings, bought LigoCyte, a private biopharmaceutical company specializing in vaccine products. Takeda is based in Osaka, Japan.

LigoCyte will remain in Bozeman for the foreseeable future and intends to retain all its employees, said CEO Donald P. Beeman.

Takeda has operated in Japan for more than 230 years and had sales of about $19.2 billion last fiscal year. LigoCyte was founded in 1998 and employs 37 people in Bozeman.

“It’s a great opportunity for us at LigoCyte to be associated with Takeda. Very forward thinking and advanced company around vaccines. We’re delighted,” Beeman said.

The acquisition is a major step forward for the expansion of Takeda’s vaccine business, said Rajeev Venkayya, executive vice president of Takeda’s vaccine business division, in a statement announcing the sale.

Venkayya’s division, in turn, is part of a larger restructuring of Takeda, which is facing changes in many markets where it operates and an “impending loss of patent protection on certain leading products,” according to its most recent annual report.

The company’s net income fell 49.9 percent between fiscal years 2010 and 2011 as part of the restructuring, the report showed.

Venkayya’s division was created about nine months ago as part of Takeda’s plan to adjust the company to the changing pharmaceutical market. It has a goal of shifting Takeda’s products in developed areas such as the U.S. from high-selling drugs already on the market to a lineup targeting areas with unmet medical needs.

The company is dependent on “the early and rapid market penetration of new products,” the report stated.

LigoCyte and its lead product — a vaccine to prevent norovirus gastroenteritis, a flu-like illness — was identified by Takeda as having enough potential for global impact to invest in, Venkayya said in a phone interview late Thursday.

Current plans for the Bozeman biopharmaceutical company are to “do everything to support” the LigoCyte team in Bozeman to keep vaccine development moving forward, Venkayya said.

“Our No. 1 priority is to maintain current momentum,” he said.

Once the norovirus vaccine is on track, Venkayya said Takeda will work with the LigoCyte team to look at other vaccine candidates for further development. Takeda invests roughly $3.8 billion in research and development each year.

The norovirus vaccine is many years away from completing federal requirements and reaching the commercial market, Beeman said. The company would not have been able to get it to market on its own.

“I think this is a proud day for LigoCyte and Bozeman and Montana, especially in how it relates to bioscience,” Beeman said.

Jason Bacaj may be reached at jasonb@dailychronicle.com or 582-2635.

  • Jason Bacaj may be reached at jasonb@dailychronicle.com or 582-2635.


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