Growth hormone drugs gaining popularity in South Korea

2023.03.17 12:55:01 | 2023.03.17 12:56:09

[Photo by MK DB]이미지 확대

[Photo by MK DB]



The human growth hormone market is rapidly expanding in South Korea as the so-called “ten pocket” phenomenon, where parents, grandparents, relatives, and other acquaintances spare no expenses for children, appears to be affecting the market amid the country’s low birthrate.

LG Chem Ltd., the largest South Korean chemical company, said on Thursday that its growth hormone Eutropin recorded 120 billion won ($92.1 million) in sales last year, doubling from 60 billion won in 2019. Eutropin currently has the largest market share in Korea. Somatropin, an ingredient of Eutrophin, stimulates cell and bone growth and protein synthesis necessary for growth.

Dong-A ST Co., another domestic market leader for human growth hormone, also showed remarkable growth as its Growtropin posted 61.5 billion won in sales last year, up 38.8 percent from the previous year. Sales have been growing more than 30 percent every year since 2019.

The two companies’ products account for more than 50 percent of the Korean market, where imported products, such as Genotropin from Pfizer Inc., Norditropin from Novo Nordisk A/S, Saizen from Merck & Co., Inc., SciTropin from SciGen Pte.Ltd and ZOMACTON from Ferring Pharmaceuticals Inc. are also sold.

It is estimated that one of LG Chem’s Eutropin products had a market share of 46 percent last year, an increase of 5 percentage points from 41 percent in 2019. Dong-A’s Growtropin also increased its market share by 3 percentage points to 19.8 percent last year. “There are supply variables for imported products, so Korean growth hormone drugs have a greater advantage in terms of supply and demand,” said an official from LG Chem.

The pharmaceutical industry attributes the growth in the domestic human growth hormone market to the changed environment for raising children amid declining birthrates. As more and more households raise only one child, their interest and spending increase in raising children. Growth clinics in large general hospitals are also expanding to small- and medium-sized hospitals and neighborhood clinics, increasing access to short stature treatment, according to a source from the industry.

Pharmaceutical companies are aiming to expand their market share by developing growth hormone drugs in various ways. LG Chem recently launched ‘EuDi.’ a mobile app that helps users record and manage information on their hormone injections, including dosage, place of injection and injection date.

The companies are also constantly upgrading their products. LG Chem’s Eutropin S Pen has self-administration button that is suitable for young patients to use. The product can also tell how much solution is left in its cartridge and can be stored at room temperature for up to 14 days.

LG Chem is also planning a strategy to expand its scope to precocious puberty treatment. It is already conducting phase 3 clinical trials for a growth hormone-linked treatment for precocious puberty, with the goal of commercializing it in Korea by 2025.

Dong-A ST is considering developing Growtropin as an injection with a long-term effect. Growtropin has obtained additional indications for idiopathic short stature, Turner syndrome, and stature growth disorder in children since its approval in 1996. The company entered the Brazilian tender market last year, along with the Central and South American markets.

By Shin yoo geoung, Lee Chang-hoon, and Yoon Yeon-hae

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