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Pharmaceutical research funds promised

Moon wants the sector to be growth engine and source of exports

May 23,2019
President Moon Jae-in, center, asks questions about a technology that removes tumors during his visit to a research center in Osong, North Chungcheong, on Wednesday. [YONHAP]
President Moon Jae-in promised to expand government R&D spending committed to the biopharmaceutical and health industry to over 4 trillion won ($3.3 billion) annually by 2025.

He also said the government will invest more than 2 trillion won over the next five years through an exclusive “scale up” fund to help start-ups expand.

“Now is the appropriate opportunity for us to lead in the global biohealth market,” President Moon said on Wednesday while visiting Osong, North Chungcheong.

He added that the plan was to raise the Korean biopharmaceutical and health industry to one of the country’s top five sources of exports.

“By 2030, we will have a market share of 6 percent in the global drug and medical equipment market and exports of more than $50 billion,” Moon said. “We are not long from an era where the drug and bioengineering industry will lead our economy.”

Last year, Korea’s market share in the global drug and medical equipment market totaled 1.8 percent.

Osong is the ninth regional economic tour President Moon has taken since his visit to North Jeolla on Oct. 30 last year. Since then, he has visited North and South Gyeongsang and Gangwon as well as major cities including Ulsan, Daejeon, Busan and Daegu.

This is his first visit to North Chungcheong in seven months. The last time he was in North Chungcheong was when he visited Cheongju to attend the opening of an SK Hynix semiconductor plant in October last year.

The biopharmaceutical and health industry is one of three core industries that the Moon government has chosen as a primary growth engine. The other two industries are non-memory chips and future cars.

Osong hosts the nation’s central pharmaceutical and medical business industrial complex and also the headquarters of the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

Moon expressed his determination to expand Korea’s biopharmaceutical industry.

“As of 2016, the global market for biopharmaceutical drugs and medical equipment grew to $1.8 trillion in size,” Moon said. “While it’s not an easy area, we have the talent and the technologies, as well as the mindset, for challenges.”

He especially noted the rapid growth of Korea’s pharmaceutical industry.

“Celltrion Chairman Seo Jung-jin said the biopharmaceutical industry has the potential to grow at a faster pace and to approach the size of the semiconductor industry,” Moon said, adding that this is one of the reasons the government has selected the biopharmaceutical and health industry as one of its three new strategic industries.

“Last year, our companies had two-thirds of the world’s biosimilar market and the second-largest production in the world,” Moon said.

He said Korea is now moving beyond the biosimilar market and working to make its own drugs.

“Korea’s reputation overseas in medical technology is fast improving, and there is a growing number of requests for cooperation,” Moon said. “While many Koreans still use French cosmetics, overseas Korean cosmetics are well regarded.”

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]


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