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July 16, 2024

SK Biopharmaceuticals seeks to expand R&D with surging Xcopri sales

PUBLISHED : June 07, 2024 - 17:38

UPDATED : June 07, 2024 - 17:38

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SK Biopharmaceuticals CEO Lee Dong-hoon speaks at the company's booth during the BIO International Convention held in San Diego, California, on Thursday. (SK Biopharmaceuticals)

SAN DIEGO -- SK Biopharmaceuticals CEO Lee Dong-hoon expressed increased confidence in solidifying the company's reputation as an "anti-epilepsy treatment franchise," following a surplus in the first quarter of this year, driven by the strong performance of Xcopri, launched in the United States in 2020.

"Sales of Xcopri are currently driving our revenue, but our long-term goal is to succeed through our own research and development pipeline," Lee said during press conference at the BIO International Convention in San Diego on Thursday.

"With our dedicated team of researchers, SK Biopharmaceuticals aims to explore not only traditional pharmaceuticals, but also challenge and explore various new modalities," he added.

SK Biopharmaceuticals announced that they have organized a total of 200 meetings throughout the four-day convention this time, dividing the company mainly into three teams: pipeline partnering, acquisitions and development.

"Having developed 10 FDA-approved drugs so far, we owe our such achievement to most of our seven lead researchers in SK Life Science Labs have over 20 years of experience at Big Pharma companies like Janssen, GSK and Merck," Lee explained.

According to the company, Xcopri recorded sales of 90.9 billion won ($66 million) in the US in the first quarter, up 68.5 percent year-on-year. The company expects that the treatment could generate $1 billion in US sales by 2029.

As of March this year, the total number of monthly prescriptions was about 27,000. Xcopri is sold directly in the US, with a gross profit margin in the mid-90-percent range.

Emphasizing the company's commitment to recruiting top talent globally, Lee highlighted the contributions of Sunita Misra, a former medical doctor and US certified specialist in epilepsy. She joined SK Biopharmaceuticals as vice president of global clinical development and acting chief medical officer since last year.

Sunita Misra, SK Biopharmaceuticals' global clinical development VP and acting CMO, makes a presentation on epilepsy patients studies and findings, at the BIO International Convention held in San Diego, California, on Tuesday. (SK Biopharmaceuticals)

"Having key players who set new standards is crucial in the bio business. Germany, the UK and the US were able to develop vaccines within a year during the COVID-19 pandemic, largely due to the efforts of immigrant scientists based in those countries. Likewise, SK Biopharma will actively scout such talent to ensure our research and development remain competitive on the global pharma stage," Lee said.

The CEO also hinted at acquiring a new second product by the end of this year, with the profits to be used to study new modalities and foster open innovations. "When I attended the BIO USA event a decade ago, there were hundreds of Chinese booths. By 2019, they were at the center of the convention. This year, I see the rise of Korean bio, potentially marking a turning point for US pharma."

Meanwhile, this marks the first time that SK Group's bio affiliates, SK Biopharmaceuticals and SK Bioscience, have set up exhibition booths at BIO USA. The two companies jointly showcased their development technology and portfolios to boost business partnerships globally.

By Kim Hae-yeon (hykim@heraldcorp.com)

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