[Source: Pharmicell Co.]
South Korea’s Pharmicell Co. will speed up the development of a stem cell therapy to treat alcoholic cirrhosis, while strengthening its market leadership in nucleoside business.
Pharmicell sales in mainstay stem cell therapy business have remained low, but the drug maker pins high hope for Cellgram-LC, a clinical-stage investigational therapy for alcoholic cirrhosis as the market is large compared to other stem cell drugs in the pipeline, the company’s chief executive Kim Hyun-soo told Maeil Business Newspaper in a recent interview.
The company recently completed the construction of its second plant to meet exponential market demand for nucleosides used in RNA-based therapies and vaccines, and molecular diagnostics. Pharmicell invested 12.5 billion won ($9.53 million) into the new facility, which will allow it to expand annual nucleoside production to 27 tons from 13 tons.
Pharmicell is the world’s largest nucleoside producer with a market share of about 80 percent. Among its key accounts are global companies such as Thermo Fisher Scientific, a leading molecular diagnostics company.
Nucleoside business is Pharmicell’s largest cash cow currently, but its main job is to develop stem cell therapies. Since the launch of Hearticellgram, the world’s first approved stem cell umbilical cord product, the company has conducted clinical trials of five stem cell therapies in Korea and elsewhere.
[Source: Pharmicell Co.]
But, Hearticellgram, the only launched product in the company’s stem cell therapy lineup, is expensive and not covered by health insurance. It accounted for only 2 percent of Pharmicell’s revenue last year.
Pharmicell is now looking forward to the success of Cellgram-LC, which is the company’s most advanced stem cell therapy candidate close to regulatory approval. “Currently, this drug is undergoing Phase 3 clinical trials and evidence for improvement in survival is being built up. We will accelerate the development of this therapy to meet the unmet needs of patients,” Kim said.
Founded in 2002, Pharmicell is divided into a chemical division that produces medical research materials and a bio division that develops stem cell therapies. The company recorded an all-time high of 17.4 billion won in sales in the first quarter, of which nucleoside sales increased to 9.6 billion won from a year ago, accounting for 55 percent of the total.
By Han Jae-beom, Woo Je-yoon and Minu Kim
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]