As the 3rd largest pharma region in Asia, Korea’s booming pharma industry owes much to its mass of family-run conglomerates known as Chaebol. It comes as no surprise to find tech giants Samsung and LG in this list who have transitioned seamlessly into the life-sciences sector.
Chong Kun Dang Pharmaceutical
CEO: Young-Joo Kim
Chong Kun Dang Pharmaceutical became the first Korean pharmaceutical company to export products to the US market through the obtainment of the U.S. FDA approval.
Chong Kun Dang Pharmaceutical Corp is one of the leading Korean pharmaceutical manufacturers and has a great strength on domestic sales not only with prescription drugs indicated for anti-hypertension, anti-hyperlipidemia and anti-diabetics but also with OTC drugs such a Penzal, Prefemine, Modcol and consumer health such as insecticides, hairdye, etc.
Their high-tech manufacturing facility, Cheon-An plant located in Cheon-An City, Chung Cheong Nam Do has an area of 13,700㎡ and gross floor area of 5,000㎡ .
Here the process of dispensing raw materials, production, packaging and release of finished products is controlled by an automated warehousing system.
Chong Kun Dang was the first in Korea to run its own research institute; it also invested a huge portion of its resources in nurturing and training research manpower.
Chong Kun Dang Research Institute is characterized by three independent laboratories:
The New Drug Discovery Labs, for identifying innovative drug candidates, The Technology Development Labs, dedicated to generic drugs, APIs, and botanical drugs,
and The Bio Research Labs for developing antibodies, vaccines, and recombinant proteins.
Chong Kun Dang has distinguished achievements in drug development including the following:
Two new drugs, Duvie (type II diabetes) and Camtobell (cancer), were developed successfully.
CKD-732 (Beloranib), which was developed by Chong Kun Dang and licensed out to an US-based specialty pharma Zafgen.
CKD-11101, a biosimilar product to treat anaemia induced by chronic kidney disease is filed to MFDS after the completion of Phase 3 clinical trials.
CEO: Tae Han Kim
Samsung BioLogics was established in April 2011 and is headquartered in Incheon, South Korea.
Since 2011 the company has moved quickly and the South Korean contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) has built a series of progressively larger, more advanced facilities, culminating in its 180,000L “Dream Plant.” This facility, the largest single plant of its kind, sets Samsung BioLogics up to become the world’s biggest contract manufacturer.
Together with its subsidiaries, Samsung Biologics engages in the research, development, and commercialization of biopharmaceutical products worldwide.
The company develops immunosuppressant biosimilars, such as Enbrel under the Brenzys and Benepali brand names; Remicade under the Renflexis and Flixabi brands; and Humira under the Hadlima and Imraldi brand names. The company also offers Herceptin, a biosimilar for the treatment of breast cancer under the Samfenet and Ontruzant brand name.
In addition, the company offers process development services, including upstream, downstream, and analytical technology; cell culture and purification; aseptic fill and finish, lyophilization, and support processes; quality and compliance, and quality control; and project management services.
Further, it provides contract manufacturing services for mammalian bulk manufacturing. Samsung Biologics Co.,Ltd. has a partnership agreement with the Immunomedics, Inc. to manufacture hRS7, an Immunomedics humanized antibody.
CEO: Kim Cheol & Jeon Kwang Hyun
SK Chemicals started life as Sunkyung Textiles in 1969 and has since transitioned into an innovative chemical and life sciences enterprise representing South Korea.
SK Chemicals’ new mission is to “enhance human health and protect the Earth’s environment.”
The green chemical business is steadily progressing as a leading global company in the environmentally-friendly materials business by using state of the art technology, knowledge, and production facilities.
SK Chemicals operates on four core areas of business: bio-materials, composites, high-performance materials, and energy saving materials while continuing a commitment to R&D activities.
The active creation of new medicines continues to bolster SK Chemicals global position.
CEO: Jong Soo Woo
Hanmi Pharmaceutical Co was founded by Lim Sung-Gi in 1973 and is headquartered in Hwaseong-si, South Korea.
The engages in the manufacture and sale of pharmaceutical products. Its products include medicines for high blood pressure, hyperlipidemia, reflux esophagitis, and cerebrovascular disease.
In 2014, Hanmi invested over 150 billion won in R&D for the first time. Based on this, Hanmi focuses on developing new drug projects such as LAPSCOVERY and anticancer drugs targeting the global market.
Hanmi has globally proven its high technology and capacity with FDC (fixed-dose combinations) drugs. Amosartan, a hypertension drug, is exported to 51 countries around the world through Merck. Hanmi also develops and proceeds with many FDC drug projects with GSK.
CEO: Seng Ho Jeon
Established in 1945, Daewoong Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. has the largest prescription drug sales in Korea and envisions itself to become a top 50 global healthcare company by 2020.
In addition to its product portfolio, which includes 15 blockbuster products, Daewoong has built strong core competency for new drug development and has cultivated a cooperative culture for collaboration with global partners.
In the future, Daewoong will expand its global business with its foreign branches and global partners and become a global healthcare group which contributes to improving the quality of life for people worldwide.
In May 2018 Daewoong Pharmaceutical won the Canadian government’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) certification for the plant they set up there to produce Nabota, its brand of botulinum toxin (botox).
CEO: Yun Paul Woongsup
Ildong Pharmaceutical is an established and respected name in South Korea’s pharmaceutical industry. They specialize in developing, manufacturing, and supplying pharmaceutical products.
Ildong Pharmaceutical’s researchers and scientists use state-of-art laboratories and equipment to develop new drugs to battle against resistant bacteria, malignant tumours, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, and ageing. They are well known for their capacity in the development of raw vitamins, probiotics, and antimicrobials.
Ildong Pharmaceutical has developed a number of power brands such as Biovita, the first commercial lactobacillus product to be introduced in South Korea, and Aronamin, a lineup of popular multivitamins. The company also works with global pharmaceutical companies to manufacture original prescription drugs and utilizes its internal synthesis capacity to manufacture a wide variety of generic prescription drugs.
Ildong Pharmaceutical is currently expanding into functional health food, medical device, cosmetic, and beverage industries and evolving into a total healthcare company of global proportions.
CEO: Huh Il Sup
In 1971, GC Pharma (formerly known as Green Cross Corporation) became the first company in S.Korea and the sixth company in the world to establish a plasma fractionation plant. In 2009, it completed the construction of the Ochang Plant, the largest biotech facility at the time. GC Pharma has been producing and exporting a variety of plasma-derived products, including albumin, immunoglobulin, and antithrombin.
Disease prevention is an area of focus for the company. In 1983, the company became the third in the world to develop a hepatitis-B vaccine, known as Hepavax, followed by in 1988 becoming the first in the world to develop a vaccine against the Hantavirus hemorrhagic fever (Hantavax). In 1993, GC Pharma became the second in the world to develop a varicella vaccine (Suduvax), and in 2015 it became the fourth in the world to develop a quadrivalent flu vaccine (GC Flu Quadrivalent).
In addition, GC Pharma has been tackling rare diseases with recombinant DNA technology, becoming the second in the world to develop a treatment for Hunter syndrome (Hunterase) in 2012 and the third in the world to introduce a recombinant factor treatment for hemophilia A (GreenGene F) in 2010.
In 2001, GC Pharma became the first pharmaceutical company in Korea to adopt a holding company structure with GC in an effort to enhance its specialization and competitiveness in the global market.
GC has also set up local companies in the United States (plasma centers) and China (plasma-fractionation facility and distribution center).
In addition to launching flu and varicella vaccines on the international organization procurement market, GC Pharma has also recently opened a plasma fractionation plant in Canada and begun the process of obtaining a product license for its immunoglobulin, IVIG-SN, from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — an effort to expand its presence in the North American and global market.
CEO: Park, Jin-Soo
LG Chem was founded in 2001 and is headquartered in Seoul, South Korea.
The company has built a global network for production, sales and R&D not only in Korea but also in main bases across the world and has provided globally competitive products including ABS, polarizers and EV battery cells, raising its global position as a material supplier.
After creating a longstanding dominance in the electrical and IT market LG expanded its business into Life Science area, building a future-oriented business portfolio.
Life Sciences is the company’s new growth engine in the mid to long-term goal.
The company has secured the differentiated R&D competence and has received the U.S. FDA approval for its new drugs for the first time in Korea.
The company has actively penetrated into the overseas market and has expanded the pipelines for developing new drugs with active investment in R&D.
CEO: Jung Jin Seo
Established in 2012, Celltrion is a biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Incheon, South Korea.
In 2015 the company launched Remsima, the world’s first biosimilar monoclonal antibody (mAb) to be approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
In November 2018 Celltrion Healthcare, the marketing arm of the company, won a huge deal in France with big tenders for Herzuma, a biosimilar of Roche’s blockbuster breast cancer treatment Herceptin.
Celltrion continues to concentrate its capacities on the development of innovative novel biologics, such as bio-betters, ADC, and therapeutic agents for influenza, based on the technologies and production capacities accumulated through developing the antibody biosimilar.
In 2018, Celltrion was ranked #82 on Forbes Top Regarded Companies List and #14 on their World’s Most Innovative Companies List.
CEO: Jung Hee Lee
Yuhan Pharmaceuticals is a South Korean pharmaceutical and chemical company established in 1926 and headquartered in Daebang-dong, Dongjak-gu, Seoul, Korea.
Yuhan recently established a wholly owned subsidiary, named Yuhan USA, in San Diego.
The company engages in the research and development, and production of active pharmaceutical products and intermediates, such as antivirals, antibiotics, antihistamines, antidiabetics, beta-lactamase inhibitors, CNS intermediates, and PEGylated compounds.
It also offers Revanex, an acid pump antagonist for the treatment of peptic ulcers and gastritis-related mucosal injury. In addition, the company provides ETC products in various areas, and OTC products, such as vitamins and minerals, dermatology and analgesics drugs, and others. Additionally, the company provides contract manufacturing services.