JungTae Park, senior managing director of KoBIA (Korea Biomedicine Industry Association), describes the achievements of the association as a bridge between industry and government. He also highlights the potential of the Korean biopharmaceutical industry to become a global leader in the field.
Our priority is to support the globalization of biological products and establish international cooperation.
KoBIA was founded in 2011, what was the rationale behind the creation of this association?
KoBIA was formed to promote the Korean biopharmaceutical industry as a whole. Most of our members are local companies like CJ Healthcare, Celltrion, Samsung Biologics or small biomedical start-ups. On the other hand, around 20 of our 106 members are large international players like Pfizer or GSK. As an industry association, we try to provide these companies a single voice to achieve our goal, which is to take a bridging role between the government and biopharmaceutical companies.
In this role we want to support the commercialization of biological products and raise professionalism in the biopharmaceutical industry in Korea. Therefore, collaboration with different partners is essential. Through reinforcing the cooperative system between government and industry, we are improving biopharmaceutical policies and systems. Moreover, our priority is to support the globalization of biological products and establish international cooperation.
What would you highlight as the main achievements since the establishment of KoBIA?
One of our biggest achievements is the establishment of Dynamic BIO, a consortium composed of experts from industry, government, and academia. It can be seen as the control tower for biopharmaceutical industry development in Korea. Dynamic BIO is an unprecedented achievement, developing the industry and entering the global biomedicine market. Moreover, the creation of Dynamic BIO, the communication between the government and industry has improved dramatically.
Furthermore, KoBIA has been organizing the Global Bio Conference since 2015 in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety. This year, over 3,700 leaders and experts of the biopharmaceutical field from 36 countries attended this event and shared the latest development and regulatory information. We covered a range of topics covering vaccines, recombinant protein products, cell and gene therapy products, GMP, and biostatistics. Attendees also had the opportunity to partake in 1-on-1 meetings with regulators and to network with stakeholders from the industry.
Moreover, KoBIA is establishing ‘BIO IT Platform website as part of our export support project for MFDS. We have been jointly operating the website since 2014. This program provides information related to the biopharmaceuticals industry including overseas regulation, biologics approval regulations, and guidelines. It strives to resolve the lack of information associated with overseas approval that acts as one of the entry barriers to the global market.
From the perspective of KoBIA, which products and technology platforms do you see Korea´s biotech industry focusing on in the upcoming years?
Korea has enjoyed significant success in the biotech industry recently. The world’s first stem cell therapy was approved in Korea in 2011. There are eight stem cell therapy products internationally approved and four of them have been developed in Korea. In addition, many gene therapy products are going through phase three clinical trials and one of them got approval last year. We are expecting that the release of those products will increase the market share of Korean industry internationally.
The world’s first biosimilar antibody approved by the EU and FDA was also from Korea. Biosimilars are more cost competitive than original ones, so we are expecting the number of prescriptions and sales to incline continuously.
In addition, the world’s largest CMO (Contract Manufacturing Organization) is based in Korea. Infrastructure for drug development and manufacturing is one of the areas of high growth potential.
One of Korea’s strategies is ‘The 3rd Basic Plan for Biotechnology Support: Innovation Strategy 2025 for bio-economy based on Science Technology’. It aims to increase global bio market share from 1.7% in 2015 to 5.0% in 2025 with R&D innovation. The basic plan includes targets such as creating 100 global new drug candidates and five blockbuster drugs and increasing the amount of global technology exports by 500%.
In response to such a flow, KoBIA, a representative organization of biopharmaceutics industry, will continuously commit to support the government’s strategies by promoting public-private cooperation in the areas of regulation, systems, policies and information exchange.
What is your vision for Korea’s biomedicine sector in the coming years?
Under the vision of KoBIA, a healthier world and a happier future, we are trying to further enhance to promote public-private cooperation acting as a main channel in the areas of regulation, systems, policies and information exchange to improve international competitiveness of the Korean biopharmaceutical industry.
Korea has advanced technologies in some fields such as stem cell cultivation and division. Developing blockbusters from these fields can lead the bio-economy by offering high employment effect with technology-based high quality jobs. The graphs* below back that up. While we have strong competitors, we are looking to further grow internationally to eventually become a global leader of the industry.
What drove you personally to be part of the industry’s development and joining KoBIA in this journey?
I started my career in the pharmaceutical industry in the 1980s with DongShin pharmaceutical corporation. After the company merged with SK Chemicals, I took charge of the biological product segment such as vaccines, blood products and engaged in the biomedicine field. Throughout my career I have been guided by the ideal of helping mankind, which is also the mission of KoBIA.
I truly believe that bio-economy is not only a word for reflecting the effect of science and technology on economic growth. Bio-economy is an economic paradigm including the contribution of bio-technology to the welfare of all mankind as biopharmaceutics prevent disease and cure patients. I believe, the development of biopharmaceutics treating rare disease will perform an important role to lead the ‘real’ bio-economy.