South Korea Business Report 2022
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Professor Ham Won-hun, chairman of Yonsung Fine Chemicals

Yonsung Fine Chemicals poised for global FDF production

  • Specialising in niche markets, Yonsung develops pure generic and value-added drugs, and treatments for glaucoma, pulmonary hypertension, cancer and rare diseases
Supported by:Discovery Reports

Country Business Reports interviews and articles by Discovery Reports

Participating in worldwide efforts to recover from an extended Covid-19 pandemic, Yonsung Fine Chemicals is readying fully integrated production facilities in South Korea and Germany to emerge among the global pharmaceutical industry’s major players within three years. Following its successful acquisition of Arevipharma, one of Germany’s prominent players with almost 150 years of history, Yonsung expanded its active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) business starting last year. Through Arevipharma, it has also helped stabilise the supply chain for Covid-19 vaccines by supplying lipid nanoparticles used for mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) delivery. By 2024, Yonsung will start manufacturing finished drug forms (FDFs) in what would be its newly established facility in Icheon city, about 52km from Seoul.

“Reshoring has definitely become a global trend and for Yonsung, the acquisition of Arevipharma will help us become a key global player,” says Professor Ham Won-hun, chairman. “Considering the Covid-19 situation, this is a very significant business move. We will also be globalising our finished drug products so that we can contribute to the well-being of many.”

Yonsung’s vision is to contribute to the well-being of all mankind. This propelled the company’s drive to commercialise highly complicated chemical syntheses developed at Sungkyunkwan University, where Ham was the pharmacy school dean. Together with university colleagues, Ham co-founded Yonsung in 2000. The company has since become a major supplier of ultra-high purity, prostaglandin-based drug substances and highly potent APIs to multinational pharmaceutical firms, exporting to more than 40 countries.

Last year, Yonsung completed research and development (R&D) on its anticancer chemical. Likewise, R&D is focused on FDFs for glaucoma and pulmonary hypertension. Its potential new drug for glaucoma has reached Phase 3 clinical trials in Europe, while that for pulmonary hypertension has gained approval from the European Medicines Agency. Yonsung has produced injectable and inhalation FDFs for pulmonary hypertension.

“Apart from positioning ourselves as a global API manufacturer, we are focusing our resources on FDFs,” says Oh Chang-young, president. “For the finished drug product business, we expect to break ground on the facility construction site this year.”

Specialising in niche markets, Yonsung will continue developing drugs for rare diseases, pure generic drugs and value-added generic drugs. After establishing domestic supply, it is eyeing the highly regulated European and American markets.

“We started at university, recognising the need to make complicated chemical syntheses more accessible to the public,” Ham says. “That was our initial idea. We wanted to use our technology to contribute to the well-being of mankind. Our company has to continuously grow in order to serve all mankind.”