The Korean government is set to launch a 2 trillion won (US$1.78 billion) project to help domestic biotech companies develop new drugs. The move is intended to revitalize the domestic biotech industry, which was recently hit by a string of bad events.
According to industry sources on July 24, the three government ministries – the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW), Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) and Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy (MOTIE) – will jointly launch a tentatively named “National New Drug Development Support Project” as early as next month.
They are planning to hold a public hearing with experts from the industry, academia and government and complete a preliminary feasibility study by the end of November at the latest with an aim to inject 2 trillion won (US$1.78 billion) of budget in the next 10 years.
The National New Drug Development Support Project will replace the ongoing pan-governmental full-cycle new drug development project run by the three ministries. The industry welcomes the government’s decision as the size of the project has significantly expanded from the current 33 billion won (US$29.31 million) for three years to 2 trillion won (US$1.78 billion) for ten years.
The new project illustrates the incumbent government’s push to promote the bio industry. The government has created the Healthcare Special Subcommittee under the Presidential Committee on the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The presidential committee recently announced a deregulation package for the medical device sector, which has been called “the incubator of regulations.”
Some say that the government should establish a pan-governmental control tower in charge of the bio industry as soon as possible as it takes more than 10 years to develop new drugs. This is because the current structure that separates basic science governed by the MSIT, clinical trial by the MOHW, commercialization by the MOTIE and licensing by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety cannot be seen as effective in promoting the biotech industry.
An official from the Korea Biotechnology Industry Organization said, “The domestic bio industry has faced a series of bad events due to both internal factors and external factors. The bio industry cannot prosper if the government policy lacks consistency. So, the government should set up a unified control tower before providing policy support and promotion.”