Boryung Wins 2011 Korea Technology Grand Prix
Homegrown antihypertensive selected as one of the nation's 2011 Top 10 Tech
Boryung Pharma Company won the coveted Presidential Award of the 2011 Korea Technology Grand Prix for developing Kanarb, a new antihypertensive, which has also been put on the list of the top 10 new technology picks. Boryung became the first company to win the Presidential Award from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector since the award's establishment.
In a ceremony at the Grand InterContinental Hotel in Seoul on Dec. 8, Boryung Pharma President Kim Kwang-ho said, We'll do our utmost to not only make Kanarb, the first new anti-hypertension drug developed with government support, have an import substitution effect, but make it a homegrown new drug model that hits the global market. Kanarb (Fimasartan), released this past March 1, became the 15th new drug from Korea and the nation's first new anti-hypertension drug.
Kanarb, which is in the class of angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs), the most largely used type among all anti-hypertension drugs, was approved on Sept. 9, 2010, by the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) for its safety and its significant effect on decreasing blood pressure for those patients with hypertension. Kanarb not only embraces the merits of the existing ABR-class drugs, but provides solutions to angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE)-class drugs'side effects such as hacking cough and edemas, and it also employs a technology to overcome their drawing of lower efficacy.
Kanarb is mainly focused on patients with mild to moderate essential hypertension and for patients at risk for cardiovascular associated diseases. The new drug is designed to become a therapeutic drug and is, in general, a prophylactic drug.
Kanarb proved to be more than 20 percent more effective in lowering blood pressure than drugs in the Losartan class.
During the 12-year research period starting from 1998, Boryung poured 50 billion won into the development of the new drug, including 3.5 billion won from by the Ministry of Heath as a national project. If the candidate synthesis period from 1992 is included, the total development period actually amounted to 18 years. Boryung had acknowledged the trends in advance and developed the most novel hypertension drug to date through a series of carefully designed and controlled clinical studies. Phase I was performed in the United Kingdom beginning in 2003, followed by subsequent studies. Boryung successfully completed Phase III trials at 24 local hospitals in late 2009. Kanarb is emerging as an up-and-coming new drug in the global market and it has obtained patents from 17 countries including the United States.
Kanarb surpassed the 1 billion won mark for monthly prescription amounts just six months after its debut on the domestic market and posted 10 billion won in accumulated sales in the first year of its release. Boryung struck export deals worth a combined $30 million with 13 countries in Central and South America in October, and the company is negotiating contracts to export the new drug to Turkey, China, and other countries.
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a worldwide epidemic: a report projects that by 2025 there will be more than 1.5 billion people suffering from this disease worldwide. Modern lifestyles, such as poor diet and lack of exercise, are the main contributory factors to elevated blood pressure. Consequently, the incidence and prevalence of hypertension are increasing rapidly in both developed and developing countries. According to the WHO, approximately 80 percent of people with high blood pressure have other cardiovascular-related complications. With older people being far more susceptible, hypertension is showing a trend that is highly age-dependent. Therefore, older populations worldwide are a potent driving force in the hypertension market.
The value of the Korean antihypertensive market is estimated at 1.6 trillion won. ARB-class drugs account for nearly half of the market in terms of sales. The market, with an annual growth rate of 9 percent, is forecast to surge 23 percent in the next three years. Kanarb's entry into the market has significance because it poses a big challenge to the market as a Korean new drug. The total value of the global market is $36 billion (42 trillion won), and ARB-class drugs take up a 50 percent share in the market.
Presently, there are seven ARBs on the Korean market, all developed by foreign multinational companies, including Losartan (Cozzar by MSD), Valsartan (Diovan by Novartis), and Olmesartan (Olmetec by Daiichisankyo). Valsartan is ranked as the number one drug on the market. Of course, there were some local companies who tried to develop antihypertensive drugs, but they gave up during the development process due to diverse difficulties such as immarketability and low clinical results. nw
(left)Minister of Knowledge Economy Hong Suk-woo presents the Presidential Award of the 2011 Korea Technology Grand Prix to Boryung Pharma President Kim Kwang-ho at an award ceremony on Dec. 8.Boryung Pharma President Kim holds a certificate of the Presidential Award.
Photos on courtesy of MKE, Boryung