In June 2011, Hanwha Chemical, Korean chemical company, made its first landmark deal to license its newly developed biosimilar compound to Merck, a global pharmaceutical giant.
Hanwha attributed this overseas deal to Paul Coleman, CEO of the chemical company’s bio business unit, whose primary responsibility includes identifying global pharmaceutical companies for potential partnerships.
This is just the beginning as Hanwha has more compounds ready to be developed into biosimilar drugs with the top 25 worldwide companies, many of which have shown interest.
“We have several more in the pipeline,” Coleman told The Korea Herald. Partnerships could be in the form of joint ventures or equity investments in entities for co-development of drugs, he noted.
“Patients live all over the world. How to do we quickly make biosimilars available? One way to do that as a Korea-based company is through partnerships that have the ability to commercialize very deeply around the world.”
Biosimilars, which need to meet the highest quality standard to be approved by the authorities, are medicines that are similar to drugs that already exist and have succeeded commercially in the market.
Hanwha’s HD203 is similar to Enbrel, a drug for rheumatoid arthritis treatment. Access and cost are two vital factors for biosimilars, Coleman stressed.
New biological entity, or development of completely new and novel compounds for autoimmune disease treatment, is another area the company is focusing on. Coleman, who has a “long-term commitment to Hanwha,” said he envisions the bio business unit, part of new growth engines for Hanwha Group, to be a stand alone entity after a spin-off from Hanwha Chemical.
This is part of plans to become a global leading biotech firm over the next seven to 10 years and expand its workforce to 300-400 employees from some 150 currently in the bio business unit. He said that this is possible as Korea is being viewed by the outside world as an emerging powerhouse in biotechnology, specifically in biosimilars. “Korea is now leading, in many respects, the evolution of biosimilars equal to other advanced countries,” he added.
Source: Korea Herald