COVID-19 deals boost South Korea’s pharmaceutical industry growth

South Korea’s pharmaceutical sector is becoming increasingly innovative and attractive to foreign investment only 18 months into the government’s $1.7bn five-year biotech plan. The country’s pharmaceutical industry is now poised to grow further due to its preparations to manufacture large amounts of COVID-19 vaccines for domestic and foreign markets, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Adam Bradbury, Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “South Korea has coped comparatively well with the COVID-19 crisis, with a very effective track and trace system. The pandemic has caused relatively limited disruption to national health and economic systems, making South Korea a strong environment for current business.”

South Korean contract manufacturing organizations (CMOs) have contract manufacturing agreements for prominent COVID vaccines and therapies. There are more than 1,000 vaccines and therapies in development for COVID-19, of which more than 500 are in clinical phase, providing ample opportunities for CMOs.

Bradbury continues: “The majority of manufacturing facilities (71%) in South Korea belong to companies with a single site in the region, which indicates the large merger and acquisition potential of the South Korean industry. A total of 37 companies own the 56 sites that supply domestic and other markets outside the US and EU. This diversification shields South Korea’s captive and CMO industry against changes in a single market such as protectionist policies.”

SK Bioscience is one of several CMOs worldwide chosen to manufacture two COVID-19 pipeline vaccines: Novavax’s NVX-CoV2373 and AstraZeneca’s AZD1222. SK Bioscience’s site in South Korea is not yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Agency, but still plans to supply global markets.

Samsung Biologics has a long-term deal with Eli Lilly to produce its pipeline COVID-19 treatment monoclonal antibody bamlanivimab, and is also manufacturing COVID-19 pipeline therapies for DiNonA and Vir Biotechnology.

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