As posted on The Investor

The Korean unit of leading Asian health care provider Zuellig Pharma’s goal is to facilitate the global launch of more pharmaceuticals developed by domestic drug makers, its top executive said on March 20.

“Korean pharma companies are less multinational. There are (few) companies thinking of global and multiple environments. Going abroad without much experience could be a daunting task for them,” Zuellig Pharma Korea CEO Christophe Piganiol told The Investor in an exclusive interview.

The company entered Korea in 1995 to beef up its presence in Asia for multinational pharma companies such as Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim and Bristol-Myers Squibb that sought a business partner capable of managing simultaneous product launches in different market across Asia.

Over the past eight years in Korea, Piganiol has witnessed the development of the country’s pharma industry. This has in turn created a new role for Zuellig Pharma in helping Korean firms have a global footprint.

“We came here to share our know-how and expertise. Later, we focused on collaborative efforts with patients, wholesalers and the community as a whole,” the CEO said. “Introducing Korean products to other markets is our third phase.”

Zuellig Pharma has a vast distribution network stretching across a dozen Asian markets, and is capable of providing a full range of services that are aligned to specific needs -- from drug approval to marketing. Korean firms will be able to capitalize on such advantages to access new markets with few or no cultural barriers.

Changing demands for specific drug treatments in Korea will be another critical factor promoting Zuellig Pharma’s growth.

“Before 2010, the Korean health care market was considered as an emerging market with high growth potential. Now, it has become a mature market. We can see the path changing and moving forward to specialty drugs like hepatitis C and cancer treatments, as well as rare disease therapies,” Piganiol noted.

Keeping these new trends in mind, Zuellig Pharma will continue to invest in new cold-chain solutions for storage and distribution of temperature-sensitive products like biological drugs.

The company signed licensing agreements with Seoul-based Boryung Pharmaceuticals to sell Kanarb, an anti-hypertension drug, and its other family products in 13 Northeast Asian markets. It has also forged a partnership with Handok, another Korean pharma firm.

By Park Han-na (