The Korea Herald


Two Korean firms eye Lucentis' W32b market with biosimilars

By Shim Woo-hyun

Published : Dec. 22, 2022 - 17:27

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Byooviz, a Samsung Bioepis biosimilar referencing ophthalmology treatment Lucentis (Samsung Bioepis) Byooviz, a Samsung Bioepis biosimilar referencing ophthalmology treatment Lucentis (Samsung Bioepis)

Samsung Bioepis and Chong Kun Dang are expected to launch their biosimilar versions of Lucentis, an age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, medicine sold by Novartis and Roche, according to industry sources as reported in local media on Thursday.

AMD is an eye disease that can blur a patient's central vision. In terms of sales, the local market for AMD medicines is estimated to reach around 32 billion won ($25 million) as of last year, while the global market is estimated to be worth 4.4 trillion won.

The market expectation came after the government issued an administrative notice earlier this week that two biosimilars for AMD will be covered by the national health insurance program, starting in January next year.

An official from Samsung Bioepis said the company cannot make a comment on exactly when the company will launch its biosimilar version of Lucentis in South Korea.

While an official from Chong Kun Dang said the company "is aiming to launch the biosimilar in January next year."

When the biosimilars are introduced, patients with AMD will be able to benefit from the price competition when the two companies launch their replica versions.

According to industry sources on Thursday, a vial of Chong Kun Dang's AMD biosimilar will be priced around 300,000 won, 63 percent lower than the original drug price. A vial of Samsung Bioepis' a AMD drug is expected to be 463,000 won, also 44 percent lower than that of the original.

Usually, prices of biosimilars are set around 30-40 percent lower than generic drugs.

In June this year, Samsung Bioepis already launched the Lucentis biosimilar Byooviz in the US. Byooviz's wholesale price was set at $1,130 per 0.5 milligrams, around 40 percent cheaper than the original drug.

Currently, the local market for AMD drugs are dominated by Swiss-American multinational pharmaceutical firm Novartis and German multinational pharmaceutical firm Bayer, which sells a product called Eylea.

According to the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service, the foreign pharmaceutical firms' AMD drugs cost around 820,000 won per 3 mg, even though they are covered by the national health insurance program.

Meanwhile, Samsung Bioepis and Chong Kun Dang plan to launch their biosimilars in other countries.

Samsung Bioepis had received regulatory approvals in Europe and Australia in August and September, respectively.

Chong Kun Dang is also looking into launching its biosimilar in Japan and countries in Southeast Asia.