It has been found that South Korea recorded an export of biopharmaceuticals of US$1.1916 billion for the first 11 months of this year, up 27.9% from a year ago. Last year’s total that reflects customs clearance is US$809 million and this year’s total that reflects the factor is estimated to exceed US$1 billion for the first time ever.
Last year, the export increased by no less than 47.6% from the previous year, more than 10-fold in comparison to 2006 and more than four-fold in comparison to 2011. In the meantime, South Korea’s pharmaceutical exports totaled 3.33 trillion won in 2015, up 380% compared to 2006. During the past nine years, the annual exports of biopharmaceuticals and pharmaceuticals as a whole increased by an average of 28.6% and 7.5%, respectively.
The rapid increase in the export of biopharmaceuticals is being led by biosimilars. For example, Celltrion posted US$415.12 million in sales between January and November this year with its Remsima alone. The cumulative export of the product topped one trillion won in September, too. Green Cross is expected to reach US$200 million in annual exports with its vaccine products as well.
At present, a large number of biopharmaceuticals are ready to be exported to global markets. For instance, the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency recommended the approval of Celltrion’s new antibody cancer drug CT-P10 on December 17. The final approval for sale in Europe is likely to follow within a couple of months. Hemophilia medicine AFSTYLA developed by SK Chemical is to be made available in Europe in the first half of next year and has been on the U.S. market after an FDA approval in May.
SB9, SB5 and SB3 of Samsung Bioepis are also to be found in Europe and the United States next year. These are biosimilars of Lantus for diabetes, Humira for autoimmune disorders and Herceptin for breast cancer. KOLON Life Science signed a contract with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma last month to export Invossa for degenerative arthritis patients. The new drug technology export contract is worth 500 billion won (US$450 million), greater than any other technology export contract concluded so far in a single country between a South Korean biopharmaceutical company and a foreign one.