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Biopharmaceuticals lead Korea’s drug output growth
  • By Lee Hye-seon
  • Published 2018.09.07 13:47
  • Updated 2018.09.07 13:47
  • comments 0

Korea’s pharmaceutical output has exceeded 20 trillion won ($17.8 billion) for the first time, with biopharmaceuticals and raw drug materials driving up the growth, government data showed.

According to data from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, the domestic production of pharmaceutical products reached 20.3 trillion won in 2017, up 8.3 percent from 18.8 trillion won in the previous year.

The nation’s pharmaceutical exports went up 30.5 percent to 4.6 trillion won in 2017 from 3.6 trillion won in 2016. The trade deficit in pharmaceutical goods marked 1.7 trillion won last year.

The local drug industry had several noticeable points last year: The nation had a faster growth in output of raw materials for medicines than that of finished drugs; productions of locally developed novel drugs increased; most produced drug and company with most production changed last year; and drug exports to advanced countries such as the U.S. and Germany went up significantly.

Among pharmaceutical products, biopharmaceuticals such as vaccines and cell therapies had the steepest increase in production. The output of biopharmaceutical goods climbed 29.6 percent to 2.6 trillion won last year from 2 trillion won a year earlier.

The production of finished drugs rose 7.5 percent to 17.5 trillion won in 2017, up 7.5 percent from 16.3 trillion won a year earlier.

The output of raw material drugs went up 13.5 percent to 2.8 trillion won from 2.4 trillion won over the cited period.

The country’s pharmaceutical exports jumped 30.5 percent year-on-year to 3.6 trillion won in 2017, which was the largest volume in history. Among them, 33.6 percent came from exports of biopharmaceutical goods.

Japan was the largest importer of Korean drugs, purchasing $497 million worth of medicines. The U.S. came next with $386 million imports, followed by China’s $359 million, and Germany’s $221 million.

Korea’s drug exports to advanced nations surged last year. Those to the U.K. skyrocketed 3,202 percent year-on-year, and those to the Netherlands also jumped 487 percent. Exports to the U.S. rose 232 percent, and those to France, 189 percent.

Drug imports inched down 1 percent to $5.57 billion last year from a year earlier.

By countries, the U.S. was the largest pharmaceutical exporter to Korea, shipping $743 million medicines, followed by the U.K. with $788 million exports, China with $643 million, Germany with $594 million, and Japan with $520 million.


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