The Korea Research-based Pharmaceutical Industry Association (KRPIA) announced on Sept. 19 that global pharmaceutical companies in South Korea are reducing their clinical trials related to cancers and rare diseases although their R&D investment is increasing.
According to the association, 31 members in the country invested a total of 470.6 billion won in clinical R&D activities in 2018. When it comes to the 28 members that participated in its survey in each of 2016, 2017 and 2018, the clinical R&D cost rose from 400 billion won to 464.1 billion won in 2018. During the same period, their R&D personnel employment increased 8.2 percent to 1,678.
Likewise, their direct spending on clinical trial drugs increased 19.3 percent to 154 billion won last year, when clinical cancer research and clinical rare disease research accounted for 49 percent (583 cases) and 5 percent (63 cases) of their clinical research activities, respectively.
Still, the numbers of their cancer- and rare disease-related clinical trials in South Korea showed a significant decrease in 2018. Specifically, the former fell 4.27 percent from 609 to 583 and the latter dropped 42.86 percent from 98 to 56.
The KRPIA said that more systematic support is necessary for new anticancer drugs and rare disease medicines and the South Korean government needs to expand its conditional permission applied to rare cancer drugs proven to be safe and efficacious before a third clinical trial. At present, such drugs can be approved on condition that a third clinical trial will be carried out later.
The KRPIA also mentioned that South Korea represented 3.39 percent, sixth-highest in the world, of global pharmaceutical companies’ clinical trial protocols in 2018 whereas the ratio was 3.51 percent, fifth-highest, in the previous year. On the other hand, China’s ratio jumped from 3.7 percent (fifth-highest) to 4.66 percent (third-highest) during the period through deregulation for drug approval facilitation.