The government said it would make a public-private joint system to innovate the biohealth industry, one of the three key sectors for the future growth of the national economy.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare held the first meeting of the Biohealth Industry Innovation Strategies Promotion Committee on Wednesday to review the progress of the biohealth industry innovation strategy announced by related ministries on May 22, and discussed future plans.
The promotion committee is co-chaired by Professor Song Si-young of Yonsei University College of Medicine and Vice Minister of Health and Welfare Kim Gang-lip, and composed of industry officials, associations, scholars, and senior government officials.
At the committee’s first meeting, participants discussed the status and plans of innovation strategy for the biohealth industry, and the plan to establish a roadmap for improving regulations.
The government will promote to build a state-led big data of 1 million people by 2029. To do so, it will collect data of 20,000 people for two years from 2020 as the first step. For continuing it after 2022, the government will seek a feasibility study next year.
The government will also operate a “data-driven hospital” project so that each hospital’s clinical big data can be utilized for R&D. For the project, the health and welfare ministry plans to designate five hospitals as data-centered hospitals next year.
The public big data platform, where the four agencies’ big data is shared for public research, will open in September, the government said. The four agencies are the National Health Insurance Service, Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and National Cancer Center.
The government’s spending for R&D in biohealth to help develop innovative medicines and medical devices will go up by 16 percent on-year to 1.15 trillion won ($950.7 million) in 2020, compared to 990 billion won in 2019.
Following the plan, the government is to offer 93.8 billion won R&D expense for the development of medical devices in all stages and 15 billion won for building national bio big data. Feasibility studies will check 3.5 trillion won spending for national new drug development and 1.1 trillion won for regenerative medicine technology development.
Under the law legislated in August to support advanced regenerative medicine and high-tech biopharmaceuticals, the government will revitalize clinical trials for regenerative medicine and enhance safety management on biopharmaceutical products.
The government will also establish “Biohealth Talent Nurturing Master Plan” to bring up professionals in production, R&D and data to lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
While Korea has the world’s leading capabilities to manufacture raw materials for biopharmaceutical goods, the nation still heavily relies on imports. To resolve this problem, the government will help companies localize such raw materials.
To do so, the government will spend 12.8 billion won on upgrading manufacturing facilities for the biotech industry and conducting an R&D project to localize raw materials. It will also spend 1.1 billion won to newly support R&D of technologies to produce a cell culture medium.
To accelerate new digital healthcare technologies’ market entry, the government will conduct a pilot project for patient in-home care services and prepare guidelines in the second half of this year.
As it has become increasingly important to deregulate the biohealth industry, the government will keep looking for tasks to clear the challenges and establish a roadmap to ease regulations for the biohealth industry in the second half.
The roadmap will provide detailed plans and step-by-step schedules for the tasks including approval of direct-to-consumer (DTC) genetic testing, evaluation of new medical technology, fast license approval by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, and promotion of regenerative medicine.
“The biohealth industry is a promising sector with great potential for future growth and contribution to public health. By helping the sector expand infrastructure and easing regulations, the government plans to nurture it as one of the three key industries for Korea’s future,” Vice Minister Kim said.
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