South Korea’s Huons Global will prioritize domestic supply of Russia’s Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine if it becomes authorized in Korea, according to the company’s chief executive.
In a recent interview with Maeil Business Newspaper, Huons Global CEO Yoon Sung-tae disclosed a plan and timeline for the distribution of the vaccine in Korea, saying the company acquired domestic marketing rights to the coronavirus vaccine apart from its in-licensing deal with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) which has supported the vaccine development.
Yoon said Huons will be solo responsible for domestic marketing of the vaccine if the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety authorizes it.
The ministry entered a preliminary review of the vaccine based on non-clinical trial data submitted by Huons in the middle of last month. Clinical trial data from Russia will be filed when an official review process starts.
A Korean consortium led by Huons Global is due to roll out the Sputnik V from September or October after planned validation of its prototype vaccine in Russia in August.
The consortium consists of lead company Huons Global, bulk vaccine producer Prestige Biopharma, vial filling and packaging companies Humedics and Boran Pharma.
Huons Global CEO Yoon Sung-tae
The RDIF contacted Prestige first to commission bulk vaccine production due to mounting demand for the Sputnik V, leading to the formation of a consortium to support commercial production, Yoon said, adding Prestige is installing 60 cell incubators with 2,000-liter capacity, and other companies are expanding their facilities.
Yoon said the consortium’s production target is 100 million doses per month, but commercial production will begin with 20 to 30 million doses per month.
Regarding the vaccine’s efficacy, Yoon said the Sputnik V is highly safe and effective because it uses human adenovirus viral vectors - adenovirus 26 for the first dose and adenovirus 5 for the second one, compared to the AstraZeneca vaccine’s chimpanzee-derived adenovirus.
Huons Global has companies dedicated to medical device, disinfectants, botulinum toxin, cosmetics, health functional food, vaccine production, and distribution of diagnostic kits, but the ultimate goal of Huons Global business is to develop and discover novel drugs. Huon’s lead asset in the pipeline is HU024, an investigational biologic for the treatment of dry eyes whose phase 2 clinical trial was approved by the Ministry in October last year. It is also developing a chemical compound to treat patient with Heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), as well as biosimilars of Avastin and Prolia.
Huons Global posted a record 523 billion won ($466.3 million) in consolidated sales last year.
By Kim Byung-ho and Minu Kim
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]