May 13, 2009 / 6:30 AM / 10 years ago

Astellas reports profit fall, sees further drop

TOKYO, May 13 (Reuters) - Astellas Pharma Inc (4503.T), Japan’s second-largest drugmaker, reported on Wednesday a 4.5 precent decline in annual recurring profit on a stronger yen and forecast a second straight year of lower profits.

Astellas, half of whose revenues come from overseas, said its recurring profit fell to 271.45 billion yen ($2.79 billion) in the year ended on March 31 from 284.2 billion yen the previous year, hit also by increased spending to beef up its product pipeline.

Like other Japanese and global drugmakers, Astellas faces an urgent need to enhance its pipeline by internal efforts and possible acquisitions, given the recent and expected expiries of patent protection on mainstay drugs.

Its best-selling product, the Prograf transplant drug, lost U.S. patent protection in April 2008, although there is no generic competition to it.

Astellas’ second best-seller Flomax, used to treat urinary problems, will lose U.S. patent protection in October.

Astellas forecast a recurring profit of 219 billion yen in the year to March 2010, short of a consensus forecast of 249.64 billion yen in a poll of 16 analysts by Thomson Reuters. ($1=97.34 Yen)

Reporting by Yumiko Nishitani; Editing by Michael Watson

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