The domestic pharmaceutical industry achieved excellent results in the research and development sector last year, including the approval for sales of the 21st new domestic medicine called Liavax, and the entry of new Korea-developed medicines such as Kanarb and Supect to the global market. Even though the industry conditions this year have been more unpredictable than ever before due to the implementation of various systems and tightened regulations on illegal rebates, the industry sees owning competitive new drugs as its breakthrough, pushing forward with its R&D.
According to the pharmaceutical industry, DongA ST and Green Cross are planning to launch Dulastin and Neulapeg this year, respectively. These new drugs are their treatments for neutropenia, which were licensed to be sold in August last year. These products are both supportive care treatments for cancer to relieve the side effects of chemotherapy. When cancer patients undergo chemotherapy, the number of neutrophils goes down, weakening their immune system. The typical product is Neulasta from Amgen, which turned over nearly 6 trillion won (US$5.46 billion) all over the world last year. The product developed by the domestic pharmaceutical company is a biobetter medicine, which effect on the target lasts for an extended period of time than existing products. So, its selling point is that it can decrease the number of injections, preventing the side effects from frequent injections.
An anti-abdominal obesity drug from Hanmi Pharmaceutical, ALS-L1023, is currently in phase III clinical trials. It was developed as a natural substance treatment made from a Melissa leaf (Lemon Balm) extract from plants living in the Mediterranean. ALS-L1023 inhibits angiogenesis in growing adipose tissue, preventing the formation of visceral fat.
With major diet pills being expelled due to serious side effects, the anti-obesity market has contracted sharply. However, its market is expected to grow drastically, as new treatments with an increase in safety have developed. Not alone, Hanmi Pharmaceutical and Kwang Dong Pharmaceutical are developing a natural substance drug using sesquiterpene compounds extracted from red cedar to promote fat burning, which is currently in a phase I clinical trial. Also, Chong Kun Dang Pharmaceutical Corp. is co-developing a treatment for severe obesity with Zafgen, based in the U.S.
Even the vaccine sector, which is considered a next-generation growth engine in the pharmaceutical industry, is expected to see achievements this year. SK Chemicals recently acquired a product license for Korea’s first cell-cultured influenza prevention vaccine called “skyCellflu,” and the company is planning to release the product starting from this year. SK Chemicals is also in the finishing phase of clinical trials for commercialization of a “cell-cultured quadrivalent flu vaccine,” in which protection for one more virus was added on to skyCellflu. Green Cross is also in phase III clinical trials of an egg-based quadrivalent influenza vaccine. Since the quadrivalent flu vaccine, which started being supplied from last year even in the U.S. market, is the initial market, domestic pharmaceutical companies are expected to advance into the market quickly.
Also, new innovative drugs developed by biopharmaceutical companies are expected to enter the commercialization stage. CrystalGenomics Inc. finished clinical trials of Polmacoxib (formerly CG100649), its anti-inflammatory arthritis drug, last year, and it is undergoing the approval procedure. Since Kolon Life Science is seeing smooth progress on the phase III clinical trials of TissueGene-C, its treatment for degenerative arthritis, it is expected to be approved by the end of this year at the earliest.