Aided by government funding and big pharma partnerships, South Korea is staking its claim on biosimilars, with Celltrion and Samsung the main contenders.
South Korea is pushing to be a leader in the biopharmaceuticals field, so says a recent Financial Times report. While that country’s Celltrion is already a big player in manufacturing, partnering with Pfizer-owned Hospira, Samsung’s more recent foray into the research and development of biosimilars in particular should be interesting to watch, given the company continues to take a bite out of Apple’s market share in the smartphone/smartwatch space.
Samsung has partnered with U.S. pharma company Biogen to form Samsung Bioepis to develop and manufacture biosimilars. It has also secured a marketing agreement with another U.S. group, Merck.
Celltrion’s Remsima/Inflectra was the first copy of Johnson & Johnson/Merck’s rheumatoid arthritis drug Remicade, the world’s third best-selling drug last year with sales of $10 billion. Launched in Europe in February, this biosimilar is now sold in 40 countries worldwide. And Merck took a hit earlier in the year when Orion Oyj, the company marketing Remsima in Norway, cut the local price for the drug by 69 per cent, nabbing half the market in that country.