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Approval of new homegrown drugs increased to five in 2015

Five homegrown drugs obtained the green light from local drug authorities for sale last year, health authorities said Friday, as major South Korean pharmaceutical companies expanded their spending on research and development.

Health authorities approved the local release of Crystal Genomics' anti-inflammatory drug Acelex, Dong Wha Pharmaceuticals' Zabolante, and Dong-A ST's diabetes drug Suganon, superbacteria target antibiotics Sivextro (TAB) and Sivextro (INJ), the quasi-governmental Korea Health Industry Development Institute said.

"It is remarkable that five new drugs received approval last year since one or two local drugs on average are developed every year," said Shin Yoo-won, a KHID official.

 A total of 27 South Korean drugs have been permitted to be put on the shelves of domestic drugstores since the SK Global Chemical Co.'s anti-cancer injection Sunpla was first approved in 1999, the KHID said.

"Developing new drugs is a long-term assignment that needs patience," said a Dong-A ST official, adding that more local drug firms are not afraid of failing during the process of developing new drugs.

Since the early 1990s, local pharmaceutical firms have been making more efforts in R&D activities to develop new drugs with in-house technology instead of relying on generic drugs.

It took nearly a decade for SK Chemicals to develop the landmark anti-cancer drug, indicating the difficulty of creating a new drug without borrowing overseas technology.

The latest data shows that local pharmaceutical companies have been increasing expenditures on their R&D projects in an apparent bid to foster new growth engines.

A total of 96 listed local drug firms spent 1.16 trillion won ($984 million) on R&D last year, a 12.4 percent increase from a year ago, the KHID data showed.  (Yonhap)

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