National support for the biosimilar sector and the domestic industry’s efforts to increase production and sales may not be enough for South Korean biosimilar firms to box out competition in the ever-changing regulatory court of the U.S. “Competition in U.S. negotiations and rebates are fierce,” Choi Sung-ho, chairman of the Korean Society for Bioeconomy, said. “Even if you get listed, it is crucial to be placed in an advantageous class to lower out-of-pocket costs.
As South Korea increases its stakes on the “bioeconomy” as its next growth engine and as its “second semiconductor industry,” leading domestic biologic and biosimilar drug producers such as Samsung Biologics Co. Ltd. and Celltrion Inc. are setting record production targets to become forerunners in the global playing field.
In July 2023, South Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy ramped up efforts to kickstart the so-called “Bio Economy 2.0,” the newfound initiative that banks on the biopharmaceutical industry to potentially revitalize the country’s slowing economic and social growth. Highlighting four major areas – biopharmaceuticals, biomaterials, bioenergy and digital technologies – as the four “wheels” to carry the biopharma industry, the new plan underscored the government’s unwavering support for the sector while highlighting its vision to become the “number one bioeconomy” worldwide.
Proteomics International Pty Ltd has developed a new blood-based diagnostic test called the Promarkereso that identifies patients with esophageal adenocarcinoma as well as patients with a pre-malignant condition called Barrett’s esophagus that can arise from chronic acid reflux.
Acurastem Inc. said on Sept. 25 that it struck an out-licensing deal potentially worth $580 million with Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. to develop drugs for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other PIKfyve gene-targeting therapeutics. Under the terms, Tokyo-headquartered Takeda obtains exclusive worldwide rights to Acurastem’s PIKfyve-targeting therapeutics, including Acurastem’s lead AS-202 asset, an antisense oligonucleotide therapy to treat ALS.
Despite China’s near-frozen startup scene and increasingly cautious foreign investors following the COVID-19 pandemic, multinational pharmaceutical firms continued to scout for innovative up-and-coming Chinese biotechs in Shanghai at Chinabio Partnering Forum 2023 over its two-day run.
Wuhan YZY Biopharma Co. Ltd. made its debut on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, raising HK$121 million (US$15.48 million) in its IPO on Sept. 22, with shares (HKEX:02496) opening at the lower end of its range at HK$16 per share and ending the day at HK$16.60, a rise of 3.75%.
Inventiva SA is getting $10 million up front and the possibility of $231 in clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones by exclusively licensing its nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) candidate, lanifibranor, to Hepalys Pharma Inc. to sell in Japan and South Korea, two massive markets for the indication.
Everest Medicines Ltd. is in-licensing Kezar Life Sciences Inc.’s phase II autoimmune disease candidate, zetomipzomib in a deal worth $132 million for greater China, South Korea and southeast Asia rights. Kezar’s lead molecule zetomipzomib (KZR-616) is a first-in-class, selective immunoproteasome inhibitor with broad therapeutic potential across multiple autoimmune diseases.
Thanks to a raft of new approvals by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW), patients in Japan will soon have access to Biogen Inc./Eisai Co. Ltd.’s Leqembi (lecanemab), an amyloid-beta binder, for slowing progression of mild cognitive impairment and mild dementia due to Alzheimer's disease.