South Korea pledged to double its investments in the pharmaceutical sector to help develop 15 new drugs in the next five years, an ambitious plan that underscores Seoul’s determination to become a global power in the pharmaceutical and health care industries.
The government and pharmaceutical firms will pour 3.5 trillion won (approximately €2.74 billion) into research and development in the pharmaceutical sector by 2022, compared with 1.7 trillion won in 2016.
The plan is part of a road map unveiled by the Ministry of Health and Welfare that is meant to strengthen South Korea’s presence in the pharmaceutical and health care industries. The ministry said the pharmaceutical industry will be a “blue ocean” of fast-paced transformations of the fourth industrial revolution that is radically shifting the economic landscape and changing the nature of jobs.
In recent years, South Korean pharmaceutical companies have become competitive on a global stage on the back of robust R&D spending and policy support from the government. Still, South Korean firms lag behind their rivals in the development of new drugs, especially so-called blockbuster pills.
A total of 27 South Korean drugs have been permitted to reach the shelves of domestic drugstores since SK Global Chemical Co.’s anti-cancer injection Sunpla was first approved in 1999.
The government said it will expand financial support for pharmaceutical companies during their clinical trials as the development of new drugs is a long-term process that needs patience. It took nearly a decade for SK Global Chemical to develop the landmark anti-cancer drug. The ministry also said the fostering of the pharmaceutical sector could create about 100,000 new jobs in the next five years.