Two additions to the South Korean generics market

Generics/News | Posted 28/08/2020 post-comment0 Post your comment

In South Korea, a generic drug for the treatment of breast cancer and generic versions of Pfizer’s popular smoking cessation drug, Champix, are soon to become available. These additions to the South Korean market are likely to help it reach the US$20 billion that it is expected to reach in 2020 [1]. This recent leap in its pharmaceutical market size has been spurred on by significant government investments in generics and the fact that many originator drugs lose their patents in 2020, opening the market to generics.

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July 2020 saw the announcement that South Korea’s Samyang Biopharmaceuticals’ Everose breast cancer treatment was approved by the country’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety in 2.5 mg, 5 mg, and 10 mg doses. This is a generic version of Novartis' Afinitor, and has additional indications for neuroendocrine, central nervous system and kidney cancer. Prior to this approval, all everolimus products were imported to Korea and this is the first to be produced in the country. Samyang’s everolimus product is also the first generic version to be approved in all three doses. The company has stated that, in producing all three treatment doses, they hope to provide a variety of prescription options to medical staff and increase the convenience of dispensing the drug.

In addition, in anticipation of the patent expiry of Pfizer’s Champix (varenicline tartrate), several South Korean companies have developed generic versions of this product. Now, following its expiry in July 2020, companies such as Hanmi Pharm Co and Jeil Pharmaceutical Co are ready to launch their generic versions of the product that helps people stop smoking by relieving cravings for nicotine and easing severe withdrawal symptoms. Following government efforts to get people to stop smoking in Korea in 2015, the sales of Champix reached US$54 million in 2017. However, they have since reduced to less than half of this in 2019 due to the popularity of e-cigarettes. Despite this, it is thought that the South Korean demand for the product is significant as people try to stop smoking for health and social reasons.

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1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. South Korean pharma market to reach US$20 billion by 2020 []. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2020 Aug 28]. Available from:

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