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[Newsmaker] Celltrion on path to break W1tr in operating profit

Chairman Seo Jung-jin advises businesses to hold out for 15 months through COVID-19

 

Celltrion Group is expected to become the first Korean biologics drug company with an operating profit of over 1 trillion won ($850 million), financial data aggregator FnGuide projected Tuesday.

To put things into perspective, in 2019 there were only six groups that had delivered such a performance: Samsung, SK, Hyundai Motor, Lotte, LG and GS.

Celltrion Group is one of the few companies that has come out stronger from the unforeseen COVID-19 crisis. Comprising of biosimilars developer Celltrion, the exclusive distributor of its products Celltrion Healthcare and Celltrion Pharm, the chemical drugs manufacturer, Celltrion Group is tapping broader global markets with its essential drug pipelines.

FnGuide estimated that the combined operating profit of Celltrion and Celltrion Healthcare would mark 1.39 trillion won.

As many as 13 other major stock trading firms also believed Celltrion and Celltrion Healthcare would climb over 1 trillion won for operating profit this year. According to their analyses, Celltrion’s standalone operating profit is anticipated to amount to 689.9 billion won -- an on-year growth of 82.4 percent. For Celltrion Healthcare, they predicted the company will have more than 322 percent on-year growth in operating profit at 351.4 billion won.

The rationale behind these buoyed sentiments, industry watchers say, is that Celltrion is now stepping up its game from a biosimilars producer to one that is closer to a novel drugs developer.

Celltrion‘s major biologic drug products are Remsima (infliximab), Truxima (rituximab) and Herzuma (trastuzumab), which are biosimilars of original blockbuster drugs using the same protein.

Biosimilars are price-competitive alternatives to original biologic drugs. Their use is encouraged and welcomed by governments seeking to save on national health care costs.

This year, Celltrion has globally commercialized the subcutaneously injectable Remsima -- Remsima SC -– that can be self-administered at home. The company expects Remsima SC to rake in annual revenue of 1 trillion won in 2022, becoming Korea‘s very first blockbuster drug.

Celltrion holds the patent for Remsima SC until 2038.

On Tuesday, Celltrion signed with Celltrion Healthcare for another 30.5 billion won in unfinished Remsima substance for the latter to finalize processing and packaging.

In its innovative endeavors, Celltrion is researching an antibody cure for COVID-19.

Celltrion Chairman Seo Jung-jin said Wednesday at the 21st World Knowledge Forum in Seoul that the ongoing global pandemic can only end when the world finally has a “perfect treatment or a perfect vaccine” -- which he believes will come at the end of 2021.

Many global firms are claiming they are able to produce a viable treatment by the end of this year, but this is stretching science, Seo said.

“Treatments and vaccines take time to develop, not necessarily because a virus is tough to crack but because that is the pace science requires,” Seo said, “[We need to] endure for another 15 months.”

Seo said Celltrion’s COVID-19 antibody treatment has been submitted for clinical phase 2 trials in four countries so far, with five more countries to be added in the near future.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)

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