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Will US oncology conference boost Korean biotech shares?
  • By Nam Doo-hyun
  • Published 2018.04.27 16:29
  • Updated 2018.04.27 16:29
  • comments 0

Whether the upcoming annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in June will drive up recently depressed Korean biotech shares is drawing attention.

Recently, local biotech stock prices have suffered declines amid some analysts’ warning of bubbles in the biotech sector and the financial regulator’s tighter control on accounting.

Stocks of SillaJen, Oscotec, Theragen Etex, and Hanmi Pharmaceutical will benefit from the ASCO event, said Koo Wan-seong, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities, in a report on Thursday.

Koo predicted that investors would have more expectations for clinical outcomes of R&D pipelines of those Korean drugmakers, with abstracts to be announced on May 16, before the conference.

At the ASCO conference, SillaJen will reveal study results of intravenous injection method involving Pexa-Vec, an oncolytic virus, to induce anticancer immunogenicity.

Oscotec plans to announce the result of phase-1/2 trials on YH25448 in patients with non-small cell lung cancer.

Theragen Etex is to disclose phase-1 results on TEW-7197, an oral anticancer drug, to treat solid tumors.

Hanmi Pharm, which recently discontinued the development of Olita, will also unveil phase-2 results on Poziotinib in non-small cell lung cancer patients.

“The planned announcements of clinical results at ASCO are already reflected in investment sentiment. Depending on the results, positive issues could surface additionally,” said an analyst.

Domestic pharmaceutical firms performed well in exports, despite disappointing sales in the local pharma sector.

Two analysts at Shinhan Investment estimated that Korean exports of pharmaceutical goods would grow 22.5 percent year-on-year to reach $3.88 billion this year, despite low domestic sales.

“There are not many innovative new drugs that can lead growth in the local market, and the government's policy to cut drug prices is working well, which makes it hard to anticipate further growth,” said Bae Gi-dal and Lee Eun-sam, the analysts at Shinhan. “But exports are showing robust growth. We’re at a good start, as the first-quarter pharmaceutical exports were $780 million.”

Such growth in exports stemmed from an increase in biosimilars and commissioned drug productions, they added. On the other hand, domestic sales of pharmaceutical goods will only expand 2.4 percent this year, compared to a year earlier, they said.


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