Gov’t vows to loosen grip on bio-health regulations

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Gov’t vows to loosen grip on bio-health regulations

The government said Monday that it plans to reduce regulatory burdens for the country’s growing bio-health industry, including the development of medicine, medical devices and services derived from biological drugs, and boost spending in the sector.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy has allocated 2 billion won ($1.75 million) this year to support bio-health related start-ups and plans to a establish a 38.5 billion won fund to help bio-health companies that have been operating for less than five years. The government will also spend 7.4 billion won on research and development projects run by local hospitals.

The government will also loosen regulations that the industry has criticized as holding it back from growing. Hospitals will be allowed to release their patients’ data to other companies to build up big data analysis of new business models. Korea is currently known as one of the toughest countries in the world for doing business in smart diagnosis, according to the government, since hospitals and health care service providers are not allowed to release their patients’ information to other firms unless patients consent to it.

The government’s plan is to have hospitals share such data with companies like cosmetics manufacturers and insurance companies for research purposes only. The goal is to come up with new business models like new types of cosmetics and treatments for chronic illnesses.

“The local bio-health industry was only able to work on catching up with key global players in the past, but a new opportunity is approaching as the world is running into the fourth industrial revolution,” Trade Minister Joo Hyung-hwan said during a meeting with bio-health companies on Monday. “Korea has some of the best digitalized medical data in the world, and there also are many global talents in the country’s pharmaceutical and medical sectors. I believe Korean bio-health firms will be able to take the lead in the global market if we are able to use our strengths successfully.”

The bio-health industry is growing rapidly and accounts for about 10 percent of global GDP, according to the Trade Ministry, adding that market size is expected to grow 5.9 percent a year on average for the next decade with Korea’s society aging quickly and more people interested in health.

“Korea needs to find a new growth engine for the economy as key industries that used to help the country grow like shipbuilding and steel are becoming weak in the global market,” Joo said. “Cooperation between the private and public sectors will allow us to enjoy making upcoming changes in the fourth industrial revolution our new opportunities.”

The Trade Ministry added that it will continue to identify unnecessary regulations in bio-health to help the sector grow faster.


BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]

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