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Celltrion plans to invest 40 trillion won by 2030

Expansive plan will focus on new business areas in bio industry
May 17,2019
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Celltrion founder and CEO Seo Jung-jin presents the company’s 40 trillion won ($33.6 billion) investment plan that will be executed by 2030 on Thursday at Incheon, Gyeonggi. [NEWS1]
Biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion will invest 40 trillion won ($33.6 billion) in the bio and health care sector by 2030 to compete shoulder to shoulder with global firms like Pfizer.

The announcement of a large-scale investment plan is the first of its kind for 17-year-old Celltrion, which rapidly grew to become Korea’s fifth-largest company by market capitalization.

“The No. 1 leader in the 1,500 trillion won global pharmaceutical market is Pfizer - if we execute the investments by 2030 as planned, I believe we’ll be able to approach their level of profit,” said Celltrion founder and CEO Seo Jung-jin in a press conference held Thursday in Incheon, Gyeonggi.

The 40 trillion won plan breaks down into three large sectors: 25 trillion won for biomedical products such as biosimilars, 5 trillion won for chemical pharmaceutical products and 10 trillion won on the development of at-home health care products. The money will come from Celltrion’s profit, cash reserves and investments.

A big chunk of the 25 trillion won plan for biomedical products will go into developing biosimilars and new medicine as well as expanding production facilities. Celltrion currently has three biosimilars that are fully developed and distributed. Biosimilars, according to the FDA, are biological products that are approved based on proof that they are highly similar to other FDA-approved products.

Seo said the goal is to expand this line to more than 20 products, among which one is in the process of receiving sales approval, two are undergoing phase three clinical tests and four are under preparation for clinical tests.

The 5 trillion won investment on pharmaceutical products will be made in Ochang, North Chungcheong, where a Celltrion Healthcare factory is located. Production facilities are to be expanded by around 10 billion tablets each year. Four trillion won will be spent on R&D to expand its product range to over 50 from the current 40.

For the first time, Celltrion also unveiled details of its at-home health care business, to which it announced to input 10 trillion won. Commonly referred to as U-healthcare, this field of medicine refers to technology that allows for remote medical diagnosis and treatment without a patient being physically present at a medical center.

Four trillion won will be used to establish a medical database while the other 6 trillion won is to be invested in developing portable medical devices that can monitor patients’ health at home.

Seo explained that in many countries like Japan and Europe, the size of government budgets being spent on health care is a real concern and many are considering U-healthcare - at least for check-ups and simple procedures - as a possible solution.

“This market has potential to grow to a size incomparable to pharmaceuticals - we want to be aggressive in making investment,” he added.

Celltrion’s mid-term investment plan also includes offering external support to help Korea’s bio industry grow as a whole. Seo said he plans to support health care start-ups financially through an investment fund and by developing a global distribution network to help local bio companies export approved products.

Another grand plan Seo announced was the creation of a “bio valley” in Songdo, Incheon, for which Celltrion plans to collaborate with the Incheon metropolitan government and Samsung BioLogics to gather a cluster of companies in the health care and biopharmaceutical sector, relevant public offices and facilities required for biopharmaceutical R&D. Songdo is where Celltrion and Samsung BioLogics are headquartered.


BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]