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Foreign pharmaceutical companies continue to dominate the market while the number of patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) increases rapidly. Some South Korean companies, such as Whan In Pharm. Co. and Myung-In Pharm Co., also have presence in the market but with a minimal market share. As the shortage of ADHD drugs continues in the United States and other countries, concerns are rising that Korea may not be immune to the trend. According to the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service on Thursday, the number of ADHD patients in Korea was 139,696 in 2022, topping 100,000 for the first time and continuing an upward trend, with 78,958 patients recorded in 2020 and 99,488 in 2021.
The market for ADHD drugs is also growing as the number of ADHD patients increases. According to drug market research firm IQVIA Inc. and the pharmaceutical industry, the domestic ADHD drug market was estimated to be worth 33.6 billion won ($25.77 million) last year, double the 16.8 billion won in 2018.
ADHD medications prescribed in Korea are mainly methylphenidate and atomoxetine. Methylphenidate accounts for 87 percent of the entire market at about 29.2 billion won while atomoxetine takes up the remainder. The methylphenidate market is nearly dominated by Janssen Korea Ltd.’s Concerta, which generated 24 billion won in sales in 2022 to account for 82 percent of the methylphenidate market. Sales of treatments with the same ingredient, Whan In Pharm.’s Penid and Myung In Pharm’s Medikinet, were about 1.1 billion won and 4.1 billion won respectively. But many pharmaceutical companies are withdrawing from the market, with seven out of 15 ADHD treatments licensed in Korea expiring or withdrawn. There are only five treatments from the three companies—Myung In Pharm, Whan In Pharm., and Janssen Korea—currently available on the market.
While Concerta continues to dominate, companies are developing new ADHD treatments. SK Biopharmaceuticals Co. is testing its sleep disorder drug solriamfetol for adult ADHD patients. Soliamphetol, developed by SK Biopharmaceuticals and transferred to its United States partner Axsome Therapeutics Inc., is currently sold in North America and Europe.
Research on digital therapeutics (DTx) is also underway, with game developer Dragonfly GF Co working to develop Guardians DTx, a game-type digital treatment for ADHD.
By Kang Min-ho and Choi Jieun
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]