Yuhan Corporation has prepared a blueprint to double their sales and become one of the world’s top 50 pharmaceutical companies by 2026, the year they will be celebrating the 100th Company Anniversary. To this end, the company is venturing into a new business, such as veterinary medicine, medical devices, and probiotics market, and devoting more resources to the development of new drugs that have expected annual sales of more than 1 trillion won (885 million USD).
President/CEO of Yuhan Corporation Cho Wook-je said in the interview, “We have set a goal to grow into one of the top 50 pharmaceutical companies in the world within the next five years.”
Since taking the office as President/CEO in March, Cho has been meticulously devising an action plan to achieve the new corporate goals. The keyword is a novel drug. The most promising and profitable one from their current pipeline is Leclaza (Lazertinib), a new drug developed in-house for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which was licensed out to Janssen in November 2018 for 1.4 trillion won (1.2 billion USD). Leclaza, which was approved as the 31st domestically-developed novel drug by the South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety earlier this year, will be on the market as early as next month.
Phase 3 Clinical trial of the combined use of Lazertinib and Janssen’s Amivantamab and the efficacy of Lazertinib alone is underway as well. The industry foresees that Yuhan’s profit from Leclaza will reach 200 billion won every year and this will be re-invested in their R&D program to develop the second and third novel drugs like Leclaza. Cho said there are potential assets in Yuhan’s pipeline that can be the next Leclaza. He named 1) Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) treatment that was licensed out to Boehringer Ingelheim for 1.52 trillion in 2019, 2) an allergy treatment in-licensed from GI Innovation, 3) an obesity treatment developed in-house, and 4) a degenerative central nervous system (CNS) treatment that was joint-developed with Sungkyunkwan University, as the next candidates.
Cho painted the future of Yuhan Corporation as an R&D-focused new drug development company. He chose Gilead as their benchmarking target, a company with strong new drug development R&D programs that became the 10th largest pharmaceutical company in the world in 30 years. Yuhan is planning to increase their R&D investment, which was 200 billion won in 2020, by more than 20% this year, and also to expand the new drug pipelines by strengthening their open innovation model and cooperating with academic institutes and biotech startups.
In order to achieve the goal of being in the world’s top 50 pharmaceutical companies by 2026, Yuhan is entering the veterinary medicine market as well. The business structure will be for Yuhan to invest in domestic veterinary drug companies and assist sales of the products on the market. Cho said the companion animals-related market in South Korea is currently around 6 trillion won and expected to grow into a 10 trillion won-worth business within five years.
Partnering with Mediogen, a company specializing in Lactic Acid Bacteria and Probiotics, Yuhan is launching its own probiotic brand ‘Wise Biome’ as early as next month and compete with Chong Kun Dang’s ‘Lactofit’ (226 billion won Sales in 2020). The plan is to develop a 100 billion-worth brand within three years through differentiating their products by significantly increasing the number of strains compared to other existing products on the market.
Yuhan is also looking into the medical device business. The focus will be on personal medical devices and digital healthcare that allow patients to measure glucose levels and blood pressure at home.
Cho stated that Yuhan is developing its current business model and reviewing various new businesses with different possibilities to double in size in the next 5 years.
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