CHICAGO--Takeda Pharmaceutical, Asia’s biggest drugmaker, has enlisted new corporate PR support as it eyes further expansion in North America.

The Japanese pharma giant has selected Edelman to handle corporate duties across US, Europe and Asia, following a US-based pitch that included two other international agencies. While US AOR duties are estimated at slightly less than $1m in fees, the addition of Europe and Asia is likely to see the size of the assignment swell considerably.

The appointment comes during a time of considerable consolidation in the pharmaceutical industry, with pharma players such as Takeda eyeing acquisitions that will help them diversify their product portfolios.

Takeda’s current core products focus on such areas as metabolic disorders, inflammation and central nervous system diseases. Two years ago, the company spent $8.8 billion to expand into the biotech space, buying US oncology specialist Millenium Pharmaceuticals.

Edelman’s assignment will cover reputation and corporate affairs work, although the pitch is understood to have included a specific focus on M&A activity.

In addition, Takeda is aiming to expand its China operations, via the creation of a dedicated sales and marketing company. The company is targeting a 10-fold jump in Chinese revenues within five years, despite an underwhelming performance in the country.

Alan VanderMolen, who heads Edelman’s global corporate practice, confirmed the appointment but declined to provide further details.

Takeda’s profits fell by 11 percent to $4.43 billion in 2010, with overall sales down four percent. However, US demand for its drugs exceeded expectations. The company employs almost 20,000 people worldwide.