Pharmicell makes impressive turnaround on Covid-19 test kit material

Kim Byung-ho and Minu Kim 2021. 1. 22. 14:30
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[Photo provided by Pharmicell Co.]
The Covid-19 pandemic has created a huge challenge across the industry, but also an opportunity to some biotech firms including South Korea’s Pharmicell Co., which earned fame for its commercial launch of the world’s first stem cell therapy.

The company is now in the spotlight for its exclusive role in the supply of nucleoside, a key material used in Covid-19 test kit reagents and emerging RNA-based therapies. It made an impressive turnaround on upbeat sales of nucleoside last year after loses for many years since its founding in 2002.

Pharmicell accounts for more than 80 percent of the global market of nucleoside in diagnostic and medical areas.

Pharmicell’s nucleoside is mainly exported to U.S. Thermo Fisher Scientific and Germany’s Merck where the chemical material is partially processed before shipment to test kit makers and pharmaceutical companies. The Korean biotech company generated 11.2 billion won ($10.15 million) in sales from nucleoside business alone for the first three quarters of last year, a whopping 121 percent jump from a year ago.

Pharmicell’s nucleoside stands out among all raw materials used in a hyperlipidemia drug called inclisiran from Novartis. It occupies over 70 percent of the drug’s material composition. Inclisiran is a treatment based on RNA interference that blocks the production of specific proteins causing disease by using RNA fragments. The drug is expected to be cleared by the U.S. FDA in the first half of this year and sales are estimated to reach $2.1 billion by 2026 and continue growth, benefiting nucleoside supplier Pharmicell.

Pharmicell is specialized in stem cell therapy. The company’s first stem cell therapy Hearticellgram-AMI was approved in Korea for the treatment of acute myocardial infarction in July 2011. It was also the world’s first commercially available stem cell therapy.

In 2013, the company acquired a local nucleoside supplier of Thermo Fisher Scientific, diversifying its business into chemical manufacturing.

Pharmicell increased the number of nucleoside products to 20 and began working on quality improvement. The company’s nucleoside technology has been enhanced after carrying out several projects with government agencies.

Some nucleoside products cannot be manufactured through a general chemical synthesis platform, requiring a special process combined with a biological enzyme that is independently produced by Pharmicell.

To catch up demand for nucleoside products, the company recently decided to invest 10.6 billion won to expand production capacity. The company expects its nucleoside sales to increase over three times after the current capex project is completed this year.

[ⓒ Maeil Business Newspaper &, All rights reserved]

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