Top Five South Korean Pharma Companies


Boasting a pharma market size of KRW 23.2 trillion (USD 19.2 billion) for 2020, South Korea is one of Asia’s leading pharma nations. Read on for a ranking of the country’s top five companies, whose revenues in the first half of 2021 topped KRW 3.5 trillion (USD 2.9 billion).


1. Yuhan Corporation

Recognized as the most respected company in Korea by the Korean Management Association, Yuhan Corporation was founded in 1926. The corporation considers research and development (R&D) as its top priority. Its R&D department, present in Korea, is focused on developing therapies for treating inflammatory, autoimmune, oncologic, and metabolic diseases. Yuhan Corporation started its overseas expansion in 2010 and is now growing into a global pharmaceutical company; it offers one-stop custom synthesis services from R&D to commercial production of active pharmaceutical products (APIs) and intermediates. In the first half of 2021, its revenues were KRW 812.37 billion (USD 670 million)


2. Kolmar Korea

Kolmar Korea started in 1990 as a joint venture company with Nihon (Japan) Kolmar. The company specializes in R&D and claims that it is the biggest Korean Pharmaceutical contract manufacturer, reaching revenue of KRW 808.07 billion (USD 670 million) in the first half of 2021. Kolmar Korea’s scope of business is not limited to pharmaceutical products; it extends to cosmetics and functional health foods. The firm also has two manufacturing facilities designed to comply with EU GMP guidelines. It provides a specialized production system with total outsourcing service on the development and production of pharmaceutical and quasi-drug. Moreover, Kolmar Korea provides customized contract manufacturing services to customers who want to outsource their products.


3. GC Pharma

Established in 1969 under the name Green Cross Corporation (current legal name), GC Pharma is the updated brand since 2018. GC Pharma is a biopharmaceutical company that is a pioneer in the global vaccine market. Some of the highlights of their vaccine production include hepatitis B vaccine (Hepavax-B) and hemorrhagic fever vaccine (Hantavax). The company also focuses on critical therapeutics in the field of oncology, immunology, and rare diseases. Stemming from its conviction that R&D is the source of future revenue and economic growth, GC pharma focuses on R&D – leading the pharmaceutical industry in Korea with its bold and aggressive strategies. In 2021, its R&D investment ratio was 11.6 percent, and its total revenue was KRW 1.538 trillion (USD 1.273 billion), with a growth of 2.2 percent.


4. Chong Kun Dang

Founded in 1941, Chong Kun Dang is the first Korean pharmaceutical company to export products to the US market. It claims that it is the first in Korea to run its own research institute and prides itself on investing a significant proportion 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, active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), and botanical drugs; and the bioresearch labs for developing antibodies, vaccines, and recombinant proteins. Over the last decade, Chong Kun Dang has formed a partnership with multinational companies such as Bayer, Roche, Allergan, Pfizer, MSD, and Amgen. In the first half of 2021, the revenue of the company was KRW 639.45 billion (USD 530 million).


5. Kwang Dong Pharmaceutical

Kwang Dong Pharmaceutical was established in 1963, with a very specific core mission – transforming oriental medicine into science. It has developed a variety of oriental tablets, specialized medicines, and functional food and drinks. Kwang Dong Pharmaceutical focuses on the manufacturing and distribution of pharmaceutical products. The Company functions through five segments. The pharmacy business segment provides Chinese prescription cold medicines, hypertension medicines, cerebral apoplexy medicines, and health drinks. The hospital business segment provides anticancer agents like Copolang and blood vessel adjuvants. This segment also provides vitamin D injections like B.O.N- the first Vitamin D injection in Korea. The mineral water business segment supplies drinking spring water under the Samdasoo brand. The distribution business segment distributes health drinks like Vita500, a national Korean vitamin drink. The last segment provides products that are not covered by the other segments. In the first half of 2021, Kwang Dong Pharmaceutical reached a revenue of KRW 626.98 billion (USD 520 million).


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