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THE INVESTOR

Bio & Medicine

Biopharma sector to grow under new administration

  • PUBLISHED :May 10, 2017 - 17:28
  • UPDATED :May 10, 2017 - 17:28
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[THE INVESTOR] South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-in is expected to boost the country’s biopharmaceutical and health-related industries, which have continuously called for more government support and attention.

There are high expectations that Moon, who assumed office on May 10, will establish a new government body dedicated to centralized policymaking for the biopharma and health care sectors.

On the campaign trail, Moon pledged to create a “fourth industrial revolution” committee under the presidential office that would oversee Korea’s development of future industries led by transformative technologies such as artificial intelligence, autonomous driving and the Internet of Things.

Within this new committee, Moon has stated plans to form a subcommittee dedicated to overseeing and spearheading long-term agendas for the local pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical devices sectors geared for significant growth as health care needs around the world grow in tandem with aging societies.

Welcoming Moon, the Korea Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufacturers Association on May 9 urged the president to establish a governmental control tower under the presidential office to spearhead funding toward new drug research and development. 

“With only a single new blockbuster drug sold globally, Korea can rise up as a global biopharma powerhouse. To make this happen, Korea must pool the limited R&D funding now scattered across various industries into one and efficiently manage the funds,” the association said.

“To do this, we need a control tower directly under the president that can carry out this task on a long term,” it added. “The Korean biopharma sector needs strong support and willpower from the government to help sustain Korea’s economy in the future.”

In addition, Moon has promised to simplify Korea’s complex drug pricing procedures -- now involving a two-track system led by the National Health Insurance Service and the Health Insurance Review & Assessment Service with overlapping roles -- in order to speed up the global launch and raise the competitiveness of new medications developed by Korean pharmaceutical companies.

Addressing continued calls for reforms on this front, Moon’s party has promised to speed up new drug pricing procedures by removing regulatory redundancies and adopting a more flexible pricing system.

Moon has also pledged to create new government committees dedicated to channeling new funding toward venture companies and toward scientists and researchers, a move set to benefit small-sized startups and researchers in the research and development-heavy life sciences and biopharmaceutical field.

By Sohn Ji-young/The Korea Herald (jys@heraldcorp.com)
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