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[Reporter’s Notebook] Is Korean market unimportant for Samsung Bioepis?
  • By Nam Doo-hyun
  • Published 2018.08.16 14:24
  • Updated 2018.08.16 14:24
  • comments 0

“Please insert ‘severe’ in front of ‘acute pancreatitis’ in the headline and the main body of your English article.”

Such request came from Samsung Bioepis to Korea Biomedical Review (KBR), the healthcare-focused English news outlet and the sister paper of the vernacular Korean Doctors’ Weekly.

On Monday, the company released a press release announcing that it gained U.S. approval for a phase-1 trial on SB26, a candidate substance being developed jointly with Takeda Pharmaceutical to treat “acute pancreatitis” in the Korean language. On Tuesday, the KBR published a related article in English, a translated version from a Korean article of the Korean Doctors’ Weekly.

Samsung Bioepis said SB26’s accurate indication was “severe acute pancreatitis,” not “acute pancreatitis.”

The company sent out news releases in both Korean and English versions.

In the English release, the company marked SB26’s indication as “severe acute pancreatitis.” However, in the Korean version, it omitted “severe” part.

In other words, Samsung Bioepis used two different words in Korean and English press releases.

Scholars divide acute pancreatitis into “mild,” “moderately severe,” and “severe” ones, depending on the presence or absence of organ failure, its duration, and the occurrence of local complications.

There is a wide gap in the numbers of patients with severe acute pancreatitis and those with acute pancreatitis. The severe acute pancreatitis appears in 10-20 percent of acute pancreatitis patients. Samsung Bioepis’ press release made the distinction only in the English version.

In the English release, the company said, “While mild acute pancreatitis is more easily treatable, severe acute pancreatitis, which affects approximately 20 percent of patients suffering from acute pancreatitis, can often be fatal.”

However, in the Korean release, such part was missing. Instead, it said, “The incidence of acute pancreatitis is 24.2 per 100,000 people in the U.S., and 5.4 in the U.K. In Korea, it is about 20 per 100,000.”

While the company insisted inserting “severe” in front of “acute pancreatitis” for accuracy, it deleted in the Korean press release which mentioned the incidence rate of “acute pancreatitis,” not “severe acute pancreatitis.”

Despite the apparent error, Samsung Bioepis said there was no problem in Korean news articles that omitted the “severe” part and used “acute pancreatitis.”

“In Korea, severe acute pancreatitis seems to be widely used as acute pancreatitis. It is okay not to correct Korean articles,” a Samsung Bioepis official said.

In many other industries, companies come under fire for discriminating against local consumers.

Some Korean consumers complain that companies not only sell products at higher prices in the local market but offer low-quality services to domestic customers.

A drugmaker has to provide accurate information for patients. The issue is all the more significant in the pharmaceutical industry because patients’ health is at stake. I felt bitter toward Samsung Bioepis’ attitudes – belittling the Korean market but tending the global market so carefully.


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