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S. Korean drug firms to spend big on R&D this year

All News 10:01 January 21, 2016

SEOUL, Jan. 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's major pharmaceutical companies are poised to sharply expand their spending on research and development (R&D) in 2016, taking a page from Hanmi Pharmaceutical Co.'s aggressive investment that has led to a series of mega-hit licensing deals, industry sources said Thursday.

Of the country's top 10 drug companies by sales, Hanmi Pharmaceutical and five others are expected to invest 100 billion won (US$82.6 million) or more this year.

Hanmi Pharmaceutical is set to emerge as the top investor with 210 billion won, followed by Green Cross Corp. with 120 billion won and Yuhan Corp. with 100 billion won. Dong-A Socio Holdings Co., Chong Kun Dang Pharmaceutical Corp. and Daewoong Pharma are also among the leading investors.

The latest plans mark a significant change from last year, when Hanmi Pharmaceutical was the only player that allocated more than 100 billion won for research and development.

In 2015, Hanmi Pharmaceutical Co. signed a $4 billion license deal with French drugmaker Sanofi to develop diabetes treatments, along with a $915 million deal to export a diabetes and obesity treatment drug to Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.

Industry watchers said the drugmakers' efforts to expand investment reflect a change in their business strategies to focus on foreign countries rather than the domestic market.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety said earlier this month that South Korea shipped out 2.54 trillion won worth of medical drugs in 2014, up 9 percent, or 210 billion won, from the year before.

colin@yna.co.kr
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