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Boryung to be transformed into anticancer drugmaker
  • By Jeong Sae-im
  • Published 2020.05.04 10:37
  • Updated 2020.05.06 11:54
  • comments 0

Boryung Pharmaceutical elevated its anticancer headquarters, which were previously under the ethical drug (ETC) division, as an independent business unit, on Friday.

Boryung Pharmaceutical’s R&D Medical Director Kim Bong-seok explains the company’s goals in an interview with Korea Biomedical Review last Tuesday.

The move came as the company moves toward promoting its anticancer business in earnest after it won phase 1 clinical trial approval for BR2002, an anticancer treatment, in Korea and the U.S. last year.

“Boryung Pharmaceutical generated sales of 80 billion won ($65 million) last year from its anticancer medications,” said Kim Bong-seok, the company’s R&D medical director, said in an interview with Korea Biomedical Review last Tuesday. “In the future, we will release to market incrementally modified anticancer drugs while developing BR2002 to become a company that specializes in anticancer treatments.”

BR2002 is a significant turning point for the company to become an anticancer drugmaker. While the company has been selling 80 billion won worth of anticancer drugs annually, most of its sales came from drugs licensed in from other pharmaceutical companies.

With the expansion of the global anticancer drug market, the company will not only sell products developed by others but to develop innovative anticancer drugs such as BR2002, the company said.

BR2002 targets the protein enzyme PI3K (phosphoinositide 3-kinase) and the DNA-damaging biomarker DNA-PK (DNA dependent protein kinase) at the same time to prevent the growth of cancer cells.

Boryung is conducting phase 1 clinical trials for patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma tumors.

As a double-inhibition mechanism targeting both PI3K and DNA-PK, the company is devoting itself to development, as BR2002 as a first-in-class treatment. This is also why Boryung Pharmaceuticals recruited Kim as its general manager.

After graduating from Seoul National University Medical School, Kim served as an oncologist at the Veterans Health Service Medical Center for 22 years, where he treated cancer patients. He has also participated in global clinical trials for anti-cancer treatments such as the MSD’s immunotherapy Keytruda.

“Based on the experience in the clinical field, I intend to demonstrate my ability in new drug development,” Kim said. “The company has spared no support for growing the field of anticancer drugs, and we expect that there will be good results as the company strengthened responsibilities and roles by making anticancer division as an independent business unit.”

The phase 1 clinical trial for BR2002 is simultaneously going on in Korea and the U.S., after the company recruited its first patient on April 21.

“We will decide whether to enter the next cohort on May 20 after considering side effects,” Kim said. “Despite the Covid-19 outbreak, our clinical trials are progressing as planned.”

While the company plans to develop innovative anticancer drugs in the long term, it also plans to launch an incrementally modified drug (IMD) soon to expand its market.

The company’s most recent plans include launching an IMD for a docetaxel non-alcohol formulation, which is superior compared to the existing first-generation anticancer drug, in the second half of this year.

“The company will become the first firm in Korea to launch a docetaxel non-alcohol formulation that has resolved the side effects of the existing products in the second half of this year,” Kim said. “We are aiming to increase the annual sales of our anticancer products from the current 80 billion won to 100 billion won this year.”

The company is also developing a new drug from a rare carcinoma and is aiming for conditional approval, Kim added.

Kim stressed that the company would go all out to achieve its dream of developing innovative new drugs by targeting carcinomas that have a large number of patients but have unmet medical needs.

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