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June 19 (Reuters) - Japan's largest drugmaker Takeda Pharmaceutical Co 4502.T will resume production of influenza vaccines after more than a decade, using technology from U.S. firm Baxter International Inc BAX.N, the Nikkei business daily reported.
The company that aims to begin shipments in 2014 would invest 30 billion yen ($329.9 million) to 50 billion yen, the daily reported.
The Osaka-based firm will initially develop a vaccine to immunize against H5N1 avian flu, it said.
After clearing the new vaccine through clinical trials, Takeda will begin mass production and is expected to build up capacity to turn out enough vaccine for at least 40 million people, the daily said.
The company also expects to receive 1 billion yen to 3 billion yen in Health Ministry subsidies for the effort, the paper said.
Takeda expects flu vaccine demand to remain high in the Japanese market and sees growth opportunities elsewhere in Asia, the daily said.
Takeda will set up a new testing facility at its Hikari plant in Yamaguchi Prefecture and use Baxter’s cell-culturing technology to produce vaccines faster than conventional methods that use chicken eggs, the Nikkei said.
Takeda and other major Japanese drugmakers pulled out of flu vaccine production in the mid-1990s after a legal change made immunizations voluntary, shrinking the market, the paper said. ($1=90.92 YEN) (Reporting by Debasmita Ghosh in Bangalore; Editing by Vyas Mohan)
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