[THE INVESTOR] The new chairman of an association of South Korean drug makers urged the government on March 16 to increase investments to foster the pharmaceutical industry and strengthen their presence globally.
The government’s policy support for the pharma industry is essential to make it a new growth engine as the conventional sectors such as steel and shipbuilding industries are losing their global competitiveness, said Won Hee-mok, Chairman of the Korea Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufacturers Association, who took office on March 2.
Won Hee-mok, Chairman of the Korea Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufacturers Association
“Local drug makers plan to increase their research and development spending by 20 percent to 1.2 trillion won (US$1.06 billion) this year, but the total amount still falls far short of Pfizer’s annual R&D spending,” Won said.
In order to enhance the industry’s competitiveness, the government’s budget for pharma R&D needs to be expanded to the same level as other advanced nations.
The South Korean government’s spending accounts for 8 percent of all pharma R&D expenditure while the US and Belgium governments’ investment is more than 30 percent of overall spending.
His remarks come as some Korean biopharmaceutical companies like Hanmi Pharmaceutical and Celltrion are gaining attention here and abroad as they start to commercialize new drugs and forge partnerships with global pharma firms.
“Some medications of Korean firms are still in the early stages to enter the global pharma market. Exports of generic drugs to Latin America and Northeast Asian markets need to be vitalized,” he said.
To do so, the government should expand tax benefits and incentives for drug makers, especially for companies specialized in clinical trials for biobetter and biosimilar drugs, Won said.
By Park Han-na (email@example.com)