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THE INVESTOR
September 30, 2020
Big Reunion

Bio & Medicine

Korean pharma firms aiming higher with new drugs this year

  • PUBLISHED :March 19, 2019 - 15:53
  • UPDATED :March 19, 2019 - 15:53
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Korean pharmaceutical companies have high hopes of leaping forward this year by boosting research and development to develop new drugs.

According to a survey conducted by the Korea Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufacturers Association, over 100 Korean pharma firms possess a total of 953 self-developed drug candidates. Among them, 173 are undergoing phase 1-3 clinical trials.




Many affiliates of large conglomerates are on the list. CJ Healthcare’s new drug Tegoprazan will undergo phase 3 clinical trials for expansion of its usage this year. SK Chemical also is preparing to conduct phase 3 clinical trials of its arterial occlusive disease treatment Renexin.

Moreover, the list also includes small companies like new drug developer GemVax & KAEL, which is conducting phase 2 clinical trials of its treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.

“We are waiting to see some meaningful results this year, so we will continue to invest,” a GemVax & KAEL spokesperson told The Investor. “We also hope to start our clinical trials in the US, once we get approval from the Food and Drug Administration.”


Overseas expansion

It’s not only GemVax & KAEL that hopes to expand its presence overseas. Many Korean Pharma companies are aiming to develop new drugs for global expansion.

Industry sources say that Yuhan’s performance last year was the most recent and ideal case that inspires many local firms here.

Yuhan signed a deal with Janssen Biotech to license out Lazertinib, a novel clinical-stage therapeutic candidate for the treatment of patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Under the terms of the agreement, it will receive an upfront payment of $50 million and is eligible to receive up to $1.205 billion in potential development and commercial milestone payments, along with tiered double-digit royalties on future net sales.

Moreover, Yuhan in December also signed a $785 million deal with US biotechnology firm Gilead Sciences to export its new liver disease treatment technology.

“We will focus more on R&D to become a global company, “Yuhan CEO Lee Jung-hee said during a shareholders meeting on March 15. The company added that this year the company will inject more than 160 billion won ($141.48 billion) into R&D, which is around 45 percent higher than 110 billion won that it spent last year.


More money to boost R&D

Along with Yuhan, many other new drug developers are also expressing their will to spend more on R&D.

Boryung Pharmaceutical said that it has injected around 7.8 percent into R&D last year and a similar amount or more will be invested this year.

Daewoong Pharmaceutical last year injected 114.2 billion won on R&D, which accounts for 11.89 percent of its sales. “Although we do not have specific figures for this year, since we have some clinical trials planned, we expect that more money will be needed for R&D compared to last year,” a Daewoong spokesperson told The Investor. The company added that it will fund around 70.5 billion won to establish its new R&D center called “connected collaboration & development center” in Seoul.

Furthermore, another Korean new drug developer Samsung Bioepis also announced that it will inject 180.4 billion won to establish a new R&D center in Songdo, Incheon.

By Song Seung-hyun (ssh@heraldcorp.com)

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