Korean healthcare firms turn altruistic with COVID-19 developments

2020.05.19 14:21:20 | 2020.05.19 14:52:43

[Photo provided by GC Pharma]이미지 확대

[Photo provided by GC Pharma]

Korean biopharmaceutical companies are not just eager in developing cure for global plague COVID-19, but also altruistic as they are pledging to supply treatments without any margin or even free of charge.

GC Pharma on Monday pledged unlimited free supply of GC5131A, an investigational immunoglobulin drug based on blood plasma. The company said it will cover all costs, ranging from development to commercialization, except some backed by a state fund, and there will be no limit or condition to its donation.

Developing a blood plasma therapy is being conducted as part of the government’s emergency project under which only one-time confirmatory trial is enough for the treatment unlike other drugs that are required to be tested in three-phase trials.

GC Pharma plans to conduct a clinical trial in July and roll out the therapy in H2. Medicines used to treat this unprecedented infectious disease should be wholly intended to stabilize public health, said GC Pharma CEO Huh Eun-chul. According to industry sources, the cost of blood plasma treatment for each COVID-19 patient is expected to reach 10 million won ($8,200).

A consortium led by Genexine to develop a COVID-19 vaccine is allegedly seeking no profit from its future vaccine sale. In a telephone interview with Maeil Business Newspaper, Genexine Chairman Sung Young-chul said that “the government is funding the development of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments with tax payment of public, and we should not make profits by developing medicines related to national health.”

Sung further said phase 1 and 2 trials will be completed by the fall of 2020, stressing that all planned clinical trials can be completed by early next year with government support in patient enrollment.

Earlier, Celltrion Chairman Seo Jung-jin said the company’s investigational antibody therapy slated for a clinical trial in July will be offered with no profit. During an MBN show aired recently, Seo said a phase 3 trial for the therapy requires about 300 billion won but it is a disgrace to make money from an unprecedented global disaster.

SK Chemicals has donated its bronchial asthma med Alvesco to 11 Korean hospitals including Korea University Medical Center during a clinical trial to test the drug in COVID-19 patients.

SK Plasma, a blood plasma therapy developer, said it is too early to mention free offers because it is at an early development stage, adding whether its investigational COVID-19 treatment can be donated will depend on its development situations.

In the U.S., Gilead Sciences is donating enough remdesivir to treat at least 140,000 patients for free after the FDA granted emergency use authorization for the Ebola drug to treat COVID-19 patients.

By Kim Byung-ho and Minu Kim

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]