Korean companies ready to pitch at J.P. Morgan conference
Around 20 Korean biopharmaceutical companies are set to attend the 40th annual J.P. Morgan HealthCare Conference, which will be held online Jan. 10 to 13 and is often referred to as the bio shopping mall for investors globally.
It comes at a challenging time as companies fight for share in a highly competitive market and seek significant breakthroughs in a business flooded with advancements coming at an unprecedented pace.
More than 10,000 companies from 50 countries are participating to pitch their latest technologies and products at the event, while investors will be there to find places to put their capital to work. The conference is where deals are signed, pharmaceuticals bought and mergers discussed.
The conference, which was originally to be held in San Francisco, was moved online in December due to Covid concerns and as some major companies withdrew from the event or said they would only be attending online. This has led to diminished expectations about how effective it will be, as a critical mass of investors and companies is seen as vital.
At least one major Korean company has opted not to go.
Many Korean firms will promote themselves in order to attract large international investors, with Samsung Biologics and SK Pharmteco likely taking the main stage to make presentations.
Samsung Biologics CEO John Rim is expected to pitch the company's capacity as a global contract manufacturing organization (CMO). The company currently has three CMO plants and is constructing a fourth plant, which will have an annual capacity of 256,000 liters.
The fourth plant is likely to bring the company's annual production capacity to 620,000 liters, which Samsung Biologics says is equivalent to nearly 30 percent of the global contract manufacturing market for biopharmaceuticals. The construction of the fourth plant is expected to complete by July 2023.
Samsung Biologics previously revealed its plan about building fifth and sixth plants, and details about them could be included in the presentation. It is sixth consecutive year the Songdo, Incheon-based company has participated in the conference as presenter in the main track.
SK Pharmteco, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SK Inc. that engages in contract manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, is expected to map out strategies for future growth. This is the first year the company has attended the J.P. Morgan HealthCare Conference.
In March last year, SK Pharmteco acquired 70 percent of Yposkesi, a France-based contract and development manufacturing organization specializing in the field of cell and gene therapy, which are biological treatments that alter cell and gene information to cure diseases.
The company is in talks to invest in the Center for Breakthrough Medicines, a Philadelphia-based gene and cell therapy company, though no specific details about the size of the deal have been disclosed.
SK Pharmteco is planning an initial public offering.
Celltrion, which participated in the conference in 2020 as a main stage presenter, is not attending this year. It said it will focus on "developing Covid-19 treatments."
Other mid-sized companies, including Hanmi Pharmaceutical and LG Chem, will introduce their products during the presentation in the Emerging Market Track, which for companies that have been growing at a rapid pace with high-level technology.
Hanmi is currently waiting for market approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for poziotinib, a therapy to treat lung cancer, after successful Phase 3 clinical trials. The Korean company signed a technology transfer deal with Irvine, California-based Spectrum Pharmaceuticals in 2015. Spectrum gets exclusive rights to develop and market the drug in most foreign countries while Hanmi still holds it for Korea and China.
HK inno.N said it will report the results of the global clinical trials of K-CAB Tab, which treats gastroesophageal reflux disease, in the conference. SD Biosensor and Seegene are expected to present their achievements during the pandemic and roll out strategies to become leading players in the global test kit market.
More than 10 biopharmaceutical companies, including GC Pharma, Daewoong Pharmaceutical, JW Pharmaceutical, CrystalGenomics and TiumBio, will likely to have online meetings with global investors.
JW Pharmaceutical said it plans to offer an update about URC102, a drug candidate to treat gout, during the conference.
"JW's technology and many drug candidates are expected to attract much attention from foreign biopharmaceutical firms and investors," said a spokesperson for JW Pharmaceutical.
TiumBio said it has already arranged a few partnering meetings based on some of its treatments under development. It is expected to introduce new products, including TU2218, a cancer immunotherapy candidate, and TU2670, an endometriosis treatment candidate.
Korean pharmaceutical companies inked a total of 32 technology transfer deals this year, worth 13.2 trillion won ($11.05 billion), a record high, according to data from Korea Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufactures Association. The association noted that the size will be ultimately be larger.
BY SARAH CHEA [firstname.lastname@example.org]