Multinational pharmaceutical companies increased research and development (R&D) funds in Korea last year.
According to Korean Research-based Pharma Industry Association (KRPIA), the total R&D expenditure on clinical research from the 28 global pharmaceutical companies increased 5.9 percent, from 255.8 billion won ($228.1 million) in 2016 to 271 billion won in 2017. Such increase surpasses the average 3.4 percent R&D expenditure growth for multinational pharmaceutical companies worldwide.
R&D workforce also increased by 10.4 percent from 1,386 in 2016 to 1,530 in 2017, indicating that the companies are making contributions to creating jobs for high-quality researchers in Korea, the association said.
Also, the number of clinical trials conducted by the KRPIA member companies in 2017 totaled 1,631, up 20.5 percent from 1,354 in 2016.
Of the total clinical studies conducted by multinational pharmaceutical companies in Korea, the number of cancer research clinical trials and rare disease clinical trials in 2017 increased to 771 and 274, respectively, from 507 and 79 in 2016.
The proportion of cancer clinical trials and rare disease clinical trials in total clinical trials also increased from 47 and 17 percent in 2017 from 39 and 6 percent in 2016, respectively.
These numbers demonstrate that clinical trials of the global pharmaceutical companies are contributing to early access to new treatment options for cancer patients and rare disease patients, the KRPIA said.
In the past four years, the number of clinical researches led by pharmaceutical companies has been declining. Despite such trends, however, the growing number of clinical trials in Korea increased its clinical trial ratio in the world to 3.51 percent, up 0.1 percentage point from the previous year. Such feat has raised the country to the eighth nation that conducts most clinical trials.
As the number of clinical studies of global pharmaceutical companies has increased, the cost of clinical trial drugs has also increased by 21.7 percent from 106 billion won in 2016 to 129.9 billion won in 2017. However, for clinical research purposes companies are giving medicines free of charge to domestic patients, giving them new treatment opportunities.
“KRPIA members continue to collaborate with domestic pharmaceutical companies, domestic medical institutions and research organs for the growth and development of domestic pharmaceutical industry,” the association said.
Members have also concluded a master clinical trial agreement with major clinical trial institutions in Korea to promote global clinical trials, and are conducting various clinical trial stages for multiple diseases with Korean companies, it added.
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