In 2020, Yuhan Corporation is going to invest the largest amount in history for its R&D program to speed up the development of Lazertinib (YH25448) – the first-line treatment for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has entered a phase-3 global study, and the expansion of Yuhan’s presence overseas.
The company has announced to increase its annual R&D expenditure by up to 14% of its sales, which is expected to exceed $168 million, as their sales projection for 2020 is approximately $1.3 billion. It is a drastic increase from last year’s R&D expenses, which was $117 million (9% of sales).
Yuhan has been steadily increasing its gross R&D expenditures as well as the ratio of R&D investment to sales since their CEO Jung-hee lee took office in 2015. Yuhan invested $73 million (6.5% of sales) in 2016, $87 million in 2017 (7.1% of sales), and $ 94 million in 2018 (7.4% of sales) for its R&D program.
Mr. Lee said, “We are not only focusing on short-term profit growth but putting more weights on achieving our long-term goals. We strongly believe that new drug development is the primary focus for our company’s future, thus plan to strengthen our R&D program further.”
Lazertinib’s Phase-3 global study this year
2020 will be a pivotal year for Yuhan’s novel therapeutic candidate ‘Lazertinib (YH25448)’. Lazertinib, which was out-licensed to Janssen Biotech for a total amount of $ 1.25 billion in November 2018, is a targeted drug under development as a third-generation Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor (TKI) for NSCLC.
Yuhan launched a global Phase 3 study and started recruiting patients since the first quarter of 2020 to confirm the efficacy and safety of Lazertinib compared to gefitinib. Aside from this Phase 3 trial, Yuhan and Janssen are also testing the efficacy of Lazertinib in combination with Janssen’s EGFR-cMet bispecific antibody ‘JNJ-61186372’ as well, to further extend the use of Lazertinib in patients with NSCLC.
US, Australia and now to Europe for global open innovation
Yuhan Corporation has been a “bridge” between biotech startups and multinational pharmaceutical companies, by introducing early assets from the startups, conducting preclinical and early clinical studies, then license them out to the pharmaceutical giants.
The number of Yuhan’s innovative new drug pipeline, which was nine in early 2015, has now grown to 27, more than half of which came from external research projects. Through this open innovation, the company was able to ink around $3 billion-worth of license-out deals in total over the last two years.
Yuhan has been stepping up and expanding its platform internationally. So far, the company had established a subsidiary with two offices (San Diego and Boston) in the United States and one in Australia. This year, they are planning to extend their global reach to Europe.