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Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. and Daiichi Sankyo Co. are each considering producing vaccines for new and seasonal influenza, a move that would likely sharply increase supplies of domestically produced vaccines, sources said.

The companies are considering commencing production as demand for influenza vaccines is expected to grow amid the spread of new influenza in addition to seasonal flu. The government is also beefing up support for vaccine production due to a lack of domestically produced flu vaccines.

Takeda is Japan’s leading drugmaker, while Daiichi Sankyo is the third-largest. Four small and midsize drugmakers in Japan are making flu vaccines, but no major pharmaceutical firms currently produce them.

Takeda and Daiichi Sankyo engage in sales of flu vaccines bought from drugmakers Denka Seiken Co. and the Kitasato Institute, respectively.

As the production capacity of small and midsize drugmakers is limited and the firms have faced difficulties in responding to the spread of the new influenza, Takeda and Daiichi Sankyo are considering producing flu vaccines on their own or jointly with other drug firms, the sources said.

Both Takeda and Daiichi Sankyo plan to include vaccine production as new pillars in their medium-term management plans and are expected to start building production systems as early as fiscal 2010, the sources said.

Amid a shortfall in domestically produced vaccines, Japan has remained dependent on imported vaccines made by Britain’s GlaxoSmithKline PLC and Novartis AG of Switzerland since the outbreak of the H1N1 strain of influenza last year.

Major drugmakers overseas have been enhancing vaccine production on expectations of growing demand.

Last October, Daiichi Sankyo set up a vaccine planning department to beef up its vaccine business for influenza and other diseases.

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