Celltrion’s Seo to retire in 2020

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Celltrion’s Seo to retire in 2020

Leading biopharmaceutical company Celltrion Chairman Seo Jung-jin announced last week that he plans to retire in 2020 after establishing a direct global sales network for the company.

At a press meeting held at the Conrad Seoul in Yeouido, western Seoul, on Jan. 4, Seo said he intends to retire by the end of next year. Until then he will focus on developing new direct sales channels through the biosimilar maker’s new drug Remsima SC.

“Establishing a global direct sales system through Remsima SC, forming a company to expand into the Chinese market and exporting synthetic drugs are planned,” said Seo. “Under such plans we will target the 1,400 trillion won [$1.25 trillion] global pharmaceutical market.”

Remsima SC is a new subcutaneous version of Celltrion’s biosimilar drug Remsima, a TNF Alpha inhibitor that treats diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. The new version currently awaits approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) after it was submitted for review last year. The new drug will allow patients to conveniently inject themselves, unlike the former intravenous drug that required hospital visits.

If the new version of the drug receives EMA approval, Celltrion’s Remsima will be the only TNF Alpha inhibitor drug to be in both intravenous and subcutaneous injection forms.

Seo expressed high hopes that the drug will be directly sold to foreign markets, explaining that it will reduce costs for the company that has largely relied on foreign partners. He said such efforts will help other Korean pharmaceutical companies reach foreign markets.

“The fee rates for retail partner companies reach an average of 40 percent. Such related fees can be reduced,” said Seo. “Establishing a direct sales system will not just end there but could act as a bridge for local pharmaceutical companies to go abroad.”

Seo, who founded Celltrion back in 2002, said he hopes to accomplish such goals by the end of 2020 when he plans to retire.

At the event, Seo also addressed issues surrounding Celltrion’s manufacturing capacity.

He said the company plans to construct a factory in Korea with a capacity of 120,000 liters and another factory with a capacity of 240,000 liters abroad. Celltrion currently operates two factories that both have a production capacity of 140,000 liters in Korea.

The chairman added that his son will not inherit his role, but will chair Celltrion’s board.

BY LEE SOO-KI, CHAE YUN-HWAN [chae.yunhwan@joongang.co.kr]
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