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Author: Jerome Kim, MD, Director General of International Vaccine Institute Link to the original article For emerging diseases such as Zika and MERS, new vaccines, drugs, and diagnostic kits are critical. However, the development of new technologies for global health takes time, money and political commitment. To address this, Korea can introduce an innovative funding mechanism for R&D by establishing a private-public partnership similar to the Japanese ‘Global Health Innovation Technology Fund" (GHIT). With joint investment from the government, leading biotech and pharmaceutical companies and other investors, the fund can incentivize innovation in Korea’s growing biotechnology industry and harness Korean leadership for global health. Japan's GHIT is considered a great success. The fund was launched in 2013 through joint investment by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Welfare and Labor and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Gates Foundation and 5 Japanese companies. Initially the companies provided 25% of the funding, Gates 25% and the government 50%.  From 5 companies the number has now grown to 16. This year the Japanese government announced that it would add $130 million more to the fund, and GHIT has already invested more than $75 million in over 70 projects to develop drugs, vaccines and diagnostics. In Korea there are examples of successful public private partnerships.  Shin Poong, with funding from Gates and the Medicines for Malaria Venture developed a new drug against malaria. My organization, the International Vaccine Institute, with funding from Korea, Sweden, and the Gates Foundation developed a vaccine against cholera and transferred the manufacturing technology to EuBiologics, a Korean biotechnology company. EuBiologics signed a supply contract with UNICEF that could generate $118 million in exports.  EuBiologics recently supplied one million doses of cholera vaccine to Haiti prevent a major outbreak after Hurricane Matthew devastated the island.  A GHIT program would extend that model more broadly to diseases of global importance. Products developed by Korean GHIT would be, by design, of value to the global health.  It signals a commitment to the UN sustainable development goal in health.  It highlights Korean leadership as the incoming chair of the Global Health Security Agenda. Successful products would create new companies and new jobs -- and will give Korean universities, research institutes and companies an opportunity to apply innovation to the pressing problems of global health. A Korean GHIT could be the engine that turns ideas into health, and a robust, innovative biotechnology industry.
Press release by the Ministry of Health and WelfareThe Ministry of Health and Welfare said it held on September 12 a seminar ‘Partnerships in Global Health R&D’ to help assist acceleration of the Korean pharmaceutical industry’s advance into the global new drug and vaccine markets. The global vaccine market is growing robustly at an annual rate of 11 percent since 2010 and expected to reach 114.2 trillion won in 2023 (GB Research), while the Korean vaccine market, which was worth about 700 billion won in 2014, is also fast expanding at an annual rate of 8 percent. The ratio of domestic vaccine supply relative to domestic needs only amounts about 39 percent as of 2016 (based on the type of vaccines), while the nation’s vaccine export only came to 232.7 billion won as of 2015. The market for drugs considered as essential public goods is also projected to grow at an annual average rate of 5 percent to 10 percent, primarily in the Asia-Africa (including Australia) and Latin America (Europe: 1~4%, Japan -1~2%) regions. As such, it is urgently necessary (for Korea) to make investment in development of vaccines and new drugs through strategic alliances with international organization(s) with experience in technology and entry into markets, and network with various health authorities of different countries. Through today’s seminar, the government, international organization(s) such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and IVI, and Korean companies discussed ways of global private-public partnerships aimed at accelerating investment in vaccines and new drugs and access to the global market. Notably, the Japan Global Health Innovative Technology (GHIT) fund model was explained in details, which was followed by in-depth discussions about the establishment of a private-public fund in the form of a matching fund, and about a model of cooperation with non-profit international organizations that assists individual companies, and the entire process ranging from R&D to access to the global market. Vice Health and Welfare Minister Bang Moon-kyu said, “If a ‘Korean style global private-public partnership fund is launched,’ it will not only be able to accelerate development of global vaccines and drugs, and development of related industries, but also to improve the national image through expansion of humanitarian assistance to the public sector vaccine and pharmaceutical market.” He added, “Since officials from the Gates Foundation, IVI and Korean companies have gathered today, I hope that the formation of Korean GHIT be materialized in the near future.” In her congratulatory remarks, Rep. Park In-sook of the ruling Saenuri Party said, “Attention and alert is increasing on infectious diseases of developing countries due to climate change and increased overseas travels, with cholera cases reported in Korea for the first time in 15 years,” adding, “If Korean companies seeking to access the global market can contribute to improving global health and enhance the nation’s international stature through cooperation with international organizations, it will be a smartest strategy for development of the health industry.” In interviews, IVI Director General Jerome Kim, and Andrea Lucard, Vice chief of MMV, said, “We are aware of benefits that global private-public partnerships provide us” stressing, “We hope to see keen attention and proactive participation by Korean companies with potential and the government.” Lee Dong-wook, director-general of the health industry policy at the ministry, said, “Today’s seminar is a follow-up measure for the comprehensive development strategy for the health industry (2016-2020), which was announced on September 9,” adding, “The launch of a Korean style private-public partnership will be the key to achieving the goal of developing 17 global new drugs by 2020,” adding, “When considering the trend of the public sector vaccine market as an emerging market, and unprecedentedly strong interest in Korea from overseas research funds and international organizations including the Gates Foundation, now is the right timing for investment,” urging keen attention and active participation by interested parties in Korea and overseas.

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