Daewoong Pharmaceuticals대웅제약 (President Lee Jong-wook이종욱) said Thursday that it has won the right to sell hepatitis B treatment “Virehepa,” a component of Tenofovir, and will release it next month.
Virehepa is a non-salt product that eliminates fumaric acid from the most commonly prescribed drug, Tenofovir Disoproxil Fumarate (Viread) and avoids the patent of the original drug.
The hepatitis B treatment, a 27 percent reduction in the size of the pill compared to the original, has made its use more convenient for patients with chronic diseases who need to take several drugs. It is likely to reduce the economic burden of patients with hepatitis B who need to take drugs for a lifetime because they are listed as insured drugs, cheaper than the original.
According to the Korea-U.S. free trade agreement, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety식품의약품안전처 is introducing a "licensing-patent linkage system" that gives priority to selling the generic drug listed for the first time.
The sales period is up to nine months, and the first-sale doctrine will continue through next June. Tenofovir is not only superior in inhibiting the hepatitis B virus, but also has a remarkably lower rate of resistance than other competitive drugs.
The hepatitis B drug market is estimated at 350 billion won ($309 million), according to UBIST data and industry sources, and Tenofovir accounts for 150.4 billion won of the market.
"Daewoong Pharmaceuticals has been contributing to the treatment of patients suffering from liver diseases by selling the blockbuster ‘Ursa tab’ in 1961, with annual sales of 40 billion won,” said Nah Yong-ho나용호, project manager of Virehepa at Daewoong Pharma. "We will continue to offer alternative treatments to patients suffering from hepatitis B.”
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