Celltrion Remsima. [Courtesy of Celltrion]
Latin America has become a new target for South Korean pharmaceuticals and biotech firms.
The region has been one of the world’s fast-growing pharmaceutical markets, with low rates of drug self-sufficiency, a huge population, and high levels of chronic diseases.
According to the data released by the Korea Health Industry Development Institute on Thursday, the pharmaceutical industry in Latin America is estimated at 101 trillion won ($76 billion), with significant growth rates. Global drug market forecasts found that Latin America and India are projected to achieve the fastest growth globally by 2025, at 12.6 percent and 10.9 percent, respectively. Their growth potential is more significant compared with other global markets, such as North America, with a 4.2 percent growth rate.
As an emerging drug market, one of Latin America’s advantages is its substantial population size. Brazil and Mexico boast large populations, with the former’s totaling 212 million and the latter 130 million. Brazil is one of the biggest drug markets in Latin America that ranks eighth globally.
Despite their large populations and the subsequent great demand for drugs, the region lacks the infrastructure for domestic pharmaceutical manufacturing. A mere 5 percent of the ingredients used by Brazilian pharmaceuticals are local, with the remaining 95 percent being imported.
A significant incidence of chronic diseases has contributed to the rapid growth in the Latin American drug market. In Brazil, 7.4 percent of the population have diabetes, 24.5 percent suffer from hypertension, and 20.3 percent have obesity, and a staggering 55.4 percent are overweight. Meanwhile, Mexico has the second highest obesity rate in the world after the United States.
Korean drugmakers have been using various strategies to target Latin America, such as partnerships with local firms and the establishment of local operations. Their primary target is Brazil, which holds more than 50% of the region’s market share.
Following the opening of a Brazilian office in 2012, Celltrion Healthcare Co. had its biosimilars, including Remsima, approved for use by the Brazilian Health Regulatory Agency. Celltrion also won a tender offer from the Brazilian Federal government for the purchase of Remsima for two consecutive years. Remsima holds a market share of 84 percent in Brazil as of 2022.
“Our professional staff will be responsible for sales in Latin America, a market with huge growth potential,” an unnamed official from the Korean pharmaceutical said.
GC Biopharma Corp. signed a contract with Brazilian local pharmaceutical Blau Farmaceutica for the supply of its intravenous immunoglobulin IVIG-SN in June. GC Biopharma has long been a supplier of immunoglobulin products to Brazil since 2015 and with the contract, worth $904.8 billion, GC Biopharma will supply IVIG-SN to Brazil over the next five years until June 2028.
HK inno.N Corp and Daewoong Pharmaceutical Co., who both won marketing authorization for novel gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) drugs, are ramping up their efforts to lift their market presence in Latin America.
K-Cap, HK inno.N’s GERD drug, won marketing authorization approval in Mexico. The drugmaker also signed an export deal with Laboratorios Carnot to supply its K-Cap capsules to 17 Latin American countries in 2018, and it partnered with Brazilian pharmaceutical Europharma Ltd. earlier in the year to export the K-Cap technology.
Daewoong Pharmaceutical’s novel GERD drug, Fexuclue Tablets, has been approved for use in Ecuador. The marketing authorization holder also filed new drug applications with healthcare authorities in Brazil, Mexico, and Peru.
By Kang Min-ho and Han Yubin
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