UPDATE : Monday, September 7, 2020
HOME Opinion Reporter’s Notebook
[Reporter's Notebook] Korean biopharmaceuticals have long way to go before reaching foreigners
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2019.12.11 17:37
  • Updated 2019.12.11 17:37
  • comments 0

The Korean biopharmaceutical companies have recently increased their presence in the global market by participating in world-renowned conferences and presenting their research results there.

This year, for instance, Korean drug makers interacted with global companies and physicians by attending various events, including the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) meeting, European League against Rheumatism (EULAR), European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO), and the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

Besides conferences, the biopharmaceutical companies are believed to reach their investors and those interested in their candidate substances, by participating in global investor-related forums such as J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.

One cannot help but risk, however, whether the industry has had success in reaching their overseas investors and potential partners online.

This is all the more so because Korea boasts a strong presence online.

As not every company participates in global conferences and meetings, many of them, here or abroad, make their research performances and drug substances known through English websites. That shows why online sites are an essential gateway to attracting new partners and investors. Global biopharmaceutical firms also use similar tactics to gain insight into what the interests of multinational pharmaceutical companies are.

"It is next to impossible to have a one-on-one meeting with multinational companies suddenly when there is simply nothing to talk about," a CEO of a local biopharmaceutical company recently told Korea Biomedical Review, asking to remain anonymous. "By browsing the websites of multinational giants, local firms can confirm their own future focuses and strengths, which, in turn, can help to set development goals for certain diseases that the global company may be interested in licensing out in the future."

When it comes to operating their English websites, however, Korean biopharmaceuticals have fallen far short of attaining these objectives.

You have only to see a survey conducted by Biotech Business, a U.K.-based consulting firm. The survey targeted executives in related areas, such as biopharmaceutical, contract manufacturing organizations (CMO), contract research organizations (CRO), and academic technology transfer organizations outside of Korea.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents said they had visited at least one Korean company’s website to look for information on research and development, capabilities and product offering as well as its history. All of them said the presence of an English-based website was essential.

However, 60 percent of those respondents said they felt the website was not up to date, and 40 percent of them saw the sites did not provide the right level of information. More specifically, only 33 percent of respondents agreed that the website provided them with contact details they needed, while less than half of those surveyed replied the websites had any characteristics.

Acknowledging that the opinion poll was conducted only on 18 respondents, for this writer who has been working in the field of English medical journalism for years, the results did not seem that far-fetched from my experiences.

This website of a local biopharmaceutical company shows continuous updates for its Korean page (left), but no updates at all in its English version, providing no new information about the company’s recent activities.

In 2018, I wrote an article on the importance of an English-language medical and pharmaceutical news outlet "Korea needs English medical media outlet" after receiving many emails and contacts from foreign pharmaceutical companies and other healthcare providers wanting to get in touch with Korean companies on specific products.

However, this newspaper still receives frequent requests from companies in various countries, including the United States, India, Canada, Brazil, Thailand, Taiwan and Turkey in diverse subjects, ranging from methods to contact Korean biopharmaceutical companies to questions regarding their products.

When this reporter asks why they did not contact the company directly, most of them replied that they could not find the right contact information they required.

As someone who wants to see the Korean biopharmaceutical industry grow, this writer is, of course, more than happy to transfer the email to people in public relations and other departments in Korean companies.

The problem is that many Korean companies are likely to lose precious business opportunities because they give a hard time, unintentionally, to their potential partners overseas by running such poor English websites, often called homepages here.

It is regrettable, indeed, to see that too many Korean pharmaceuticals, which say they want to go global, stop short of exploring all potential routes that can take them there, including the operation of helpful – at least readable – websites in lingua franca.


<© Korea Biomedical Review, All rights reserved.>

Other articles by Lee Han-soo
iconMost viewed
Comments 0
Please leave the first comment.
Back to Top