South Korea’s pharma sector probes halal market with Indonesian partners

For Salaam Gateway

Taipei: South Korea’s pharmaceutical industry, a global player with exports reaching South Korean Won KRW7.93 trillion ($6.8 billion) in 2020, has been expanding its foothold in the world’s Muslim markets, offering guarantees that manufacturers avoid inputs that are offensive to Muslims. This includes certain animal-derived materials, especially capsules from pig gelatin, and ingredients or processes utilising alcohol.

The South Korea industry has made particularly strong progress in the halal market by forming joint ventures with Indonesian companies. For example, CKD OTTO Pharmaceuticals is one company that has been making progress in targeting international halal markets. A joint venture company between Chong Kun Dang Pharm Corp, a leading South Korea pharmaceutical company, and PT Otto Pharmaceutical Industries, part of the Indonesian pharma-focused MENSA Group, it signed in mid-November an export agreement worth $32 million with Saidal, the largest state-run pharmaceutical company in Algeria. According to the contract, CKD OTTO will export anticancer injections produced at its Indonesian plant to Algeria until 2026.

The exported anticancer drugs have been approved by Saidal as meeting Algerian standards, which can include following key halal standards on materials. CKD OTTO was well placed to secure this deal given that in 2019 it set up an Indonesian halal-certified anticancer drug plant in Cikarang, West Java.

Other recent advances cases include the South Korea-Indonesian joint venture Daewoong Infion in May 2020 obtaining halal certification for the diabetic foot ulcer drug Easyef from the Indonesian halal certification agency LPPOM MUI (Indonesian Council of Ulama – Majelis Ulama Indonesia).

This follows Daewoong Infion in January 2020 obtaining halal certification for the erythropoietin (EPO) Epodion as the region’s first epoetin biosimilar. Epodion is used for the treatment of anemia in patients with chronic kidney failure, chemotherapy cancer patients who experience anemia, and can increase red blood cells and prevent a decrease in hemoglobin levels for patients undergoing major surgery. Daewoong Infion was set up in 2012, operating Indonesia’s first biologic plant, in Surabaya, a port city on East Java.


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