[Graphics by Minu Kim and Song Ji-yoon]
Korean pharma names in the $1 billion sales club doubled in number to 12 from two years ago, underscoring the ascent of K-bio in the year of Covid-19.
The 12 are Celltrion, Celltrion Healthcare, Yuhan, SD Biosensor, GC Pharma, Korea Kolmar, Kwangdong Pharm, CKD, Seegene, Samsung Biologics, Hanmi Pharm and Daewoong Pharmaceuticals. In 2019, only nine companies in the healthcare sector achieved the revenue milestone and Samsung Biologics, SD Biosensor and Seegene are new players in the list. The number was six in 2018.
The latest rankings show a fast growth of biotech companies in the healthcare sector. Biosimilar developer Celltrion topped the list by elbowing out four-year champion Yuhan to third place. Analysts estimate Celltrion’s revenue at more than 1.86 trillion won in 2020. Celltrion Healthcare, the distribution arm of Celltrion, is projected to have posted over 1.75 trillion won, taking second place in the list. The strong performance was driven by upbeat sales of three biosimilars (Remsima, Herzuma and Truxima) in Europe and fresh sales in the U.S. The company’s growth will continue this year on commercial supply of the country’s first Covid-19 cure Rekirona.
Samsung Biologics, the world’s largest CMO manufacturer, achieved the 1 trillion won sale milestone last year for the first time in its nine-year history.
The 1 trillion won club list was also characterized by strong performance of coronavirus test kit makers. Seegene is estimated to have achieved 1.18 trillion won in 2020 sales, 10 times higher from the previous year thanks to a sharp increase for its test kits worldwide. Another test kit developer SD Biosensor saw its sales grow explosively. The company posted 1.6 trillion won in sales last year, more than 20 times higher compared to a year ago. Based on its remarkable sales growth, SD Biosensor last month filed for initial public offer on the Kosdaq market.
Traditional pharmas fared well despite challenging business conditions in the pandemic. Yuhan, which maintained market leader for four consecutive years to 2019, is projected to have recorded 1.60 trillion won in 2020 sales, an 8.7 percent increase. GC Pharma and CKD also did well on stable sales from blood products, vaccines and consumer healthcare. CKD remained in the list for two straight years after it first entered the list in 2019. Kwangdong Pharm remained its title on growing sales of mineral water and health tonics.
Hanmi Pharm and Daewoong Pharmaceuticals saw their sales decline last year but kept their names on the $1 billion sales club.
By Chung Ji-sung, Kim Si-gyun and Minu Kim
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