The Korea Herald


Boryung acquires Korean rights to Eli Lilly’s lung cancer drug

By Kan Hyeong-woo

Published : Oct. 26, 2022 - 16:08

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Product images of non-small cell lung cancer treatment Alimta (Boryung) Product images of non-small cell lung cancer treatment Alimta (Boryung)

South Korean drug maker Boryung has acquired the selling rights of Alimta, a non-small cell lung cancer treatment developed by US pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, for the local market.

According to Boryung on Tuesday, the acquisition agreement also included the copyright and licensing rights of Alimta in the country.

First introduced in Korea in 2006, Alimta was the first drug to significantly reduce the anti-cancer drug’s adverse effects and toxicity while improving the survival rate of patients. Alimta, Eli Lilly’s original product that was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2004, is widely regarded as a groundbreaking treatment for non-small cell lung cancer.

Alimta has stayed at the top of the market, with about 60 percent market share, as the drug continued to record annual sales of 20 billion won ($14 million) since 2015, Boryung said.

Alimta’s sales have increased as of late after the combination therapy of Alimta and MSD’s immune-oncology drug Keytruda was deemed a major option for the first-line treatment of patients with metastatic non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer, according to Boryung.

The company said it is targeting 230 billion won in sales next year. Boryung noted that the completion of the rights transaction is still subject to regulatory reviews and closing conditions.

The acquisition marked the company’s third from a global drug maker as part of its “Legacy Brands Acquisition” plan to secure continuous growth and earn stable profits. Boryung previously acquired the rights of anti-cancer drug Gemzar in 2020 and schizophrenia treatment Zyprexa in 2021 from Eli Lilly.

“Alimta is a representative chemotherapy drug in the country’s first-line non-small cell lung cancer treatment. Based on a wide-ranging anti-cancer portfolio, we will continue to do our best to provide a variety of treatment options for doctors and patients,” said Kim Young-seok, head of Boryung’s oncology division.