Korean pharmaceutical companies have started targeting the global health market with domestically developed vaccines. They are latecomers but have been making big achievements, including developing a shingles vaccine for the second time in the world. They are active in exporting their products to developing countries and international organizations.
Major domestic pharmaceutical and biotech companies such as GC Green Cross, SK Bioscience, LG Chem, and CJ Healthcare are targeting the global vaccine market. They are also active in cooperating with the International Vaccine Institute, which is headquartered in Seoul. Through such activities, the companies supply domestic vaccines to the UNICEF to earn both recognition and profit.
GC Green Cross, a well-known vaccine maker, has entered Phase 3 clinical trials of the Korean tuberculosis vaccine. Korea has been relying on imports to meet its tuberculosis vaccine demand so far. GC Green Cross has established a local corporation named Curevo in the United States for research of the next generation shingles vaccine. Last year, the company was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Phase 1 clinical trials, which are now underway.
SK Bioscience succeeded in commercialization of Sky Zoster, the second shingles vaccine in the world, in 2017. It reached more than 30 billion won in sales in the first year of the product release and chased after MSD's Zostavax, which has more than 30 percent of the global market. SK Bioscience is currently in the process of getting an approval for Sky Zoster from Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, and is preparing for global clinical trials to realize exports to the United States, China and Europe. In addition, SK Bioscience has been developing typhoid vaccines for developing countries. The company carried out Phase 2 clinical trials in Korea and Southeast Asia, and the product is expected to be commercialized by 2021.
LG Chem spurs the development of vaccines. It is preparing for Phase 2 clinical trials of a six-in-one vaccine that can help prevent six life-threatening diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, meningitis, and poliomyelitis. It was recently granted US$33.40 million (about 37 billion won) from the Bill Gates Foundation. Prior to this, LG Chem also received US$19.5 million (about 22 billion won) from the foundation for the development of polio vaccine. LG Chem plans to invest the funds into expansion of clinical trials and vaccine production facilities. It aims to supply vaccines to UNICEF after 2023.
CJ Healthcare is also developing vaccines for the prevention of hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) through the technology transfer from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since there is no HFMD vaccine commercialized in Korea yet, the commerciality is sufficient. CJ Healthcare revealed the aspiration to go one step further and develop the world's first two-in-one HFMD vaccine. The goal is to complete Phase 1 clinical trials in 2022.