South Korean drugmakers are trailing market leader Celltrion Inc. to file for emergency use of their own Covid-19 treatments this month.
GC Pharma Corp. is working on a convalescent plasma therapy while Chong Kun Dang Pharm, Daewoong Pharm Co. and JW Pharmaceutical Corp. are repurposing their existing drugs to target Covid-19.
Like Celltrion, these therapies would file for emergency use authorization from Korea’s Ministry of Food and Drug Safety upon completing their Phase 2 clinical trials in early January.
Celltrion`s antibody treatment is under review for clearance.
GC Pharma embarked on a Phase 2 study for its convalescent plasma therapy in September and is aiming to complete the trial on 60 subjects by January or February. While Celltrion’s antibody treatment is for patients with mild symptoms early in infection, GC Pharma’s plasma therapy would be administered to severe Covid-19 patients, according to GC Pharma.
A majority of the other Covid-19 drugs in development are existing experimental drugs that are being re-engineered to treat Covid-19. This method is currently being deployed by 20 local companies.
Chong Kun Dang in August went into a Phase 2 clinical study in Russia to add an indication relating to Covid-19 infections for its anticoagulant and acute pancreatitis drug, Nafabeltan. The company said it will be filing for emergency use of the drug with Korea’s drug ministry in mid-January.
Daewoong Pharm in July launched a Phase 2 trial for its chronic pancreatitis drug, Foistar tablets, on mild Covid-19 patients. The drugmaker also plans to file for emergency use this month. If approved, Foistar would be the first oral Covid-19 treatment.
JW Pharmaceutical on Wednesday said its experimental Covid-19 treatment, CWP291, originally developed to treat cancer, proved to be nearly twice as effective against Covid-19 as the existing treatment Remdesivir in animal studies.
Bukwang Pharm Co. was among the first local drugmakers to proceed with clinical trials for drug repositioning in April. It is currently in Phase 2 studies to test its hepatitis B treatment, Levovir, against Covid-19.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun on Thursday said the country will be able to roll out home-made vaccines towards the end of next year. He added imported vaccines will become available as early as February.
By Kim Byung-ho, Chung Ji-sung and Kim Hyo-jin
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