The government and pharmaceutical experts from the business, academic, research and hospital sector gathered at a forum to discuss how to facilitate “open innovation” for new drug development on Wednesday.
Open innovation refers to promoting exposed corporate research, as opposed to research in secret.
The Korea Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufacturers Association (KPBMA) and the Korea Research-based Pharma Industry Association (KRPIA) held the meeting of the government, pharmaceutical representatives, and experts at Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas, on the sidelines of the Korea Pharma Associations Conference (KPAC) 2018.
Participants in the forum agreed that open innovation was necessary to enhance the public health and drive the growth of both local and foreign pharmaceutical firms.
“As research and development activities for new drugs are becoming open innovation-based ones, innovative ideas, knowledge, and know-how are being shared without boundaries,” said Lee Jung-hee, board chair of the KPBMA. “Korea will be able to become a pharmaceutical powerhouse if the aggressive efforts of the pharma industry are combined with bold open innovation and the government’s practical support.”
Avi BenShoshan, chairman of the KRPIA, said open innovation provided an opportunity to develop new and innovative medicines. “I hope there could be an ecosystem where domestic and foreign drugmakers can cooperate with academic and research entities,” BenShoshan said.
In response, the government said it would assist developing locally-made novel drugs.
“The government set the pharma industry’s growth as one of the state projects and established a second comprehensive plan to support the pharma sector through close cooperation with related ministries, Vice Minister of Health and Welfare Kwon Deok-cheol said, “We are also planning to build an infrastructure to support artificial intelligence-based drug development and smart clinical trials.”
At a free debate session moderated by Heo Kyeong-wha, vice chairman of the KPBMA for global affairs, experts suggested various methods to promote open innovation.
“Technologies are important, but we need a patient-centered approach, as patients will be the users,” said Lee Jin-woo, chairman of the research-driven hospitals association. “From this point of view, we need the medical community’s role from the early stage of new drug development to the clinical design and addition of indications after a drug launch.”
Research-driven hospitals do not aim in-house research but an open platform for open innovation. They play a role of a window in increasing contact with the industry, so please use them as much as you can, Lee added.
Choi Tae-hong, CEO of Boryung Pharmaceutical, said open innovation was a must, not an option, for new drug development and entry into the global markets. “We need the leadership of the health authorities to advance the entry of Korean new drugs into the global markets,” Choi said.
He went on to say that the government should recognize the right value of new drugs as an incentive to promote open innovation.
Choi emphasized that the government’s adequate compensation through the fair drug pricing would prompt drugmakers to make profits and reinvest the profits in new drug development and global advancement, creating a virtuous cycle. To do so, the government's willingness is more important than anything else, he said.
Kim Young-joo, CEO of Chong Kun Dang, said the pharmaceutical industry was experiencing a hurdle in clinical trials, besides the hardships in all stages ranging from the discovery of a new drug candidate to commercialization.
"After extracting a candidate substance, we go into clinical trials. But it is hard to proceed with clinical trials due to difficulty in recruiting patients for rare disease treatment,” Kim said. “The government should apply a flexible system so that the clinical process can proceed smoothly.”
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