Press Releases

Kite and Daiichi Sankyo Announce Changes to YESCARTA® CAR T-Cell Therapy Licensing Agreement in Japan

Daiichi Sankyo to Transfer Yescarta Marketing Authorization in Japan to Gilead Sciences K.K.

Kite Cell Therapy Business Unit at Gilead Sciences K.K. Will Manage the Sales and Promotion Activities in Japan After the Marketing Authorization Transfer –

SANTA MONICA, Calif. & TOKYO--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Kite Pharma, Inc., a Gilead Company, (hereafter Kite) and Daiichi Sankyo Co., Ltd. (hereafter, Daiichi Sankyo) today jointly announced the revision of their 2017 partnership agreement, which gave Daiichi Sankyo exclusive rights to develop, manufacture and commercialize Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) in Japan. Kite was acquired by Gilead Sciences, Inc. later in 2017 after the Daiichi Sankyo partnership agreement. Daiichi Sankyo and Kite have now agreed that the Marketing Authorization for Yescarta will be transferred to Gilead Sciences K.K., the Japan subsidiary of Gilead Sciences, Inc., in 2023. A Kite Cell Therapy Business Unit at Gilead Sciences K.K. will manage the sales and promotion activities of the product in Japan after the Marketing Authorization transfer.

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Kite’s manufacturing facility in El Segundo, California, U.S., has been approved by Japanese regulatory authorities to manufacture Yescarta for the Japanese market, and it is expected that supply will commence in early 2023. The first axicabtagene ciloleucel treatment center in Japan was authorized in December 2021, and there are now six hospitals in Japan authorized to administer the therapy.

“We are confident that these changes will benefit patients in Japan by increasing capacity and support broader patient access to this important treatment for blood cancer patients and we remain committed to working together with Kite to ensure a smooth transfer during this transitional period,” said Shoji Hirashima, Senior Executive Officer, Head of Japan Business Unit of Daiichi Sankyo.

“As the global leader in cell therapy, we are pleased that our partnership with Daiichi Sankyo has brought this innovative therapy to patients in Japan. We look forward to building on the momentum to accelerate efforts in Japan to maximize access and impact for patients as part of Gilead and Kite’s expansion into oncology in Japan,” said Christi Shaw, CEO of Kite.


YESCARTA® (axicabtagene ciloleucel) is a CAR T-cell therapy directed against CD19 (a cell membrane protein), which harnesses a patient’s own immune system to fight cancer. Axicabtagene ciloleucel is made by removing a patient’s T cells from their blood and engineering them in the lab to express chimeric antigen receptors so that they can recognize and destroy cancer cells when they are infused back to the patient’s body. The CAR T therapy is manufactured specifically for each patient and administered only once. Axicabtagene ciloleucel received Orphan Drug Designation from the Japan Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare in 2018 for the treatment of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma, transformed follicular lymphoma and high-grade B-cell lymphoma. Yescarta was approved in Japan for the treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphomas1, a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, in January 2021. Japan has the second-largest number of people diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma globally2.

YESCARTA® is approved in the U.S. and Europe for patients with certain types of relapsed or refractory B-cell lymphoma, where it is developed, manufactured and commercialized by Kite.

Please see full U.S. Prescribing Information, including BOXED WARNING and Medication Guide.

Yescarta® is a CD19-directed genetically modified autologous T cell immunotherapy indicated for the treatment of:

  • Adult patients with large B-cell lymphoma that is refractory to first-line chemoimmunotherapy or that relapses within 12 months of first-line chemoimmunotherapy. (1.1)
  • Adult patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma after two or more lines of systemic therapy, including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) not otherwise specified, primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma, high grade B-cell lymphoma, and DLBCL arising from follicular lymphoma.

Limitations of Use: Yescarta is not indicated for the treatment of patients with primary central nervous system lymphoma. (1.1)

  • Adult patients with relapsed or refractory follicular lymphoma (FL) after two or more lines of systemic therapy. This indication is approved under accelerated approval based on response rate. Continued approval for this indication may be contingent upon verification and description of clinical benefit in confirmatory trial(s). (1.2)

For the full European Prescribing Information, please visit:

About Kite

Kite, a Gilead Company, is a global biopharmaceutical company based in Santa Monica, California, focused on cell therapy to treat and potentially cure cancer. As the global cell therapy leader, Kite has treated more patients with CAR T-cell therapy than any other company. Kite has the largest in-house cell therapy manufacturing network in the world, spanning process development, vector manufacturing, clinical trial production and commercial product manufacturing. For more information on Kite, please visit

About Daiichi Sankyo

Daiichi Sankyo is dedicated to creating new modalities and innovative medicines by leveraging our world-class science and technology for our purpose “to contribute to the enrichment of quality of life around the world.” In addition to our current portfolio of medicines for cancer and cardiovascular disease, Daiichi Sankyo is primarily focused on developing novel therapies for people with cancer as well as other diseases with high unmet medical needs. With more than 100 years of scientific expertise and a presence in more than 20 countries, Daiichi Sankyo and its 16,000 employees around the world draw upon a rich legacy of innovation to realize our 2030 Vision to become an “Innovative Global Healthcare Company Contributing to the Sustainable Development of Society.” For more information, please visit:

About Gilead Sciences

Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company that has pursued and achieved breakthroughs in medicine for more than three decades, with the goal of creating a healthier world for all people. The company is committed to advancing innovative medicines to prevent and treat life-threatening diseases, including HIV, viral hepatitis and cancer. Gilead operates in more than 35 countries worldwide, with headquarters in Foster City, California. Gilead acquired Kite in 2017.

Gilead Forward-Looking Statements

This press release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 that are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, including the ability of the companies to consummate the transactions contemplated under and as a result of the revised arrangement in a timely manner or at all, including the transfer of the Marketing Authorization for Yescarta in Japan to Gilead Sciences K.K. and the manufacture and supply of Yescarta in Japan; the risk that Gilead and Kite may not realize the anticipated benefits of the revised arrangement with Daiichi Sankyo; difficulties or unanticipated expenses in connection with implementing the revised arrangement; the potential effect on Gilead and Kite’s earnings; and any assumptions underlying any of the foregoing. These and other risks, uncertainties and other factors are described in detail in Gilead’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2022, as filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. These risks, uncertainties and other factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those referred to in the forward-looking statements. All statements other than statements of historical fact are statements that could be deemed forward-looking statements. The reader is cautioned that any such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties, and is cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. All forward-looking statements are based on information currently available to Gilead and Kite, and Gilead and Kite assume no obligation and disclaim any intent to update any such forward-looking statements.

U.S. Prescribing Information for Yescarta including BOXED WARNING, is available at and .

Kite, the Kite logo, Yescarta, and GILEAD are trademarks of Gilead Sciences, Inc. or its related companies.


1 The approved indication in Japan is the treatment of relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, primary mediastinal B-cell lymphoma, transformed follicular lymphoma or high-grade B-cell lymphoma, in the patients who: i) have not previously treated with a CD19 CAR-positive T-cell infusion; and, ii) are previously treated with two or more lines of treatment including chemotherapy or an autologous stem cell transplant, or ineligible for an autologous stem cell transplant.
2 Globocan 2020. Available at: Accessed November 2021

Jacquie Ross, Investors

Kieko Ishikawa, Gilead Sciences K.K. and Kite Japan Media

Tracy Rossin, Kite
Global/U.S. Media

Source: Gilead Sciences, Inc.