Cancer has no borders. So do we.
In the bio and health industry, which is considered the largest market in the 21st century, there is a company focusing on relatively small markets rather than big markets such as the United States and Europe.
BeiGene was launched in 2010 based on the philosophy that there should be no borders in access to innovative drugs, just as there are no borders in diseases.
Unlike the leading Big Pharma conducting clinical research centering on the largest markets, BeiGene is focusing on the Asia-Pacific region, which was relatively small.
BeiGene’s will is to realize corporate ideology in countries that are excluded from clinical research due to their small market size or are difficult to introduce innovative new drugs due to limitations in their ability to pay.
In particular, BeiGene plans to expand accessibility by attracting various clinical studies as well as reasonable drug prices in Korea, which is recognized for its outstanding clinical research capabilities.
In fact, the company is currently recruiting about 700 patients in Korea and conducting a total of 22 clinical trials, and Brukinsa (ingredient: zanubrutinib), which was introduced as the first treatment, got over the Cancer Disease Review Committee in 40 days after domestic approval.
BeiGene officially opened a branch office in Seoul in December of last year and plans to further expand its stride.
The goal is to accelerate the entry into insurance coverage of Brukinsa, a leukemia treatment drug, and domestic approval of anti PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitor Tislelizumab (BGB-A317), and to attract as many domestic clinical studies as possible.
In time for the opening of the Seoul branch office, a group of pharmaceutical journalists met Yang Ji-hye, general manager of BeiGene Korea, to hear about the company’s philosophy and future plans.
◇BeiGene, a striving company to fulfill its mission
BeiGene is not a multinational company, but a transnational company. It is not the concept of operating a branch with a focus on a specific region, but the will to ensure that no patient is left out by demonstrating its capabilities on all continents.
“BeiGene is a global biotechnology company with a mission to provide access to innovative medicines to patients facing cancer and other life-threatening diseases, regardless of where they live,” said Yang. “The company started with the belief that it would provide effective and innovative new drugs at an affordable price to all patients around the world, especially in marginalized countries.”
"I joined BeiGene after seeing how much practical effort it puts into realizing this mission," Yang continued. “Even after joining BeiGene, I was impressed by how the company approached this philosophy practically and strategically.”
More specifically, Yang added, “Most clinical research or access to innovative new drugs is centered on in United States, Europe, and Japan. However, that population is only 12%, and the other 88% are excluded from access to new drugs or clinical research.
Yang pointed out: “BeiGene is trying to realistically approach the catchphrase by including patients from various continents, including Korea and China, in its clinical trials. We are pursuing broad access so that no patients are left out with a focus on research and innovation.”
◇Clinical studies covering 80% of all carcinomas provide new treatment opportunities
BeiGene's strategy for improving accessibility is also interesting. By conducting clinical studies in various types of cancer, new opportunities were created in cancer types with high unmet demand, and the burden on drug prices was lowered by reducing costs by expanding areas where clinical research was possible.
In this regard, Yang introduced BeiGene as a global R&D pharmaceutical company focuses on anticancer drugs that research cancer, which is the second leading cause of death in the world and can be acquired by anyone, and said, “Currently, BeiGene's pipeline covers 80% of the cancers occurring worldwide, based on the incidence rate."
“BeiGene’s portfolio encompasses small molecules as well as biological agents, immunotherapeutic agents, and cell therapy agents, and plans to enter 10 new materials into clinical research this year (2023) alone,” Yang continued. “We expect that more than 10 new substances will enter the clinical stage every year thereafter.”
CEO Yang revealed that the biggest feature of BeiGene is its pursuit of diversity in clinical trial areas and regions by saying: “We will actively conduct clinical research in cancers with high prevalence in the Asia-Pacific region to develop innovative new drugs.”
For this reason, Yang said, “Accessibility can be improved through clinical trials. However, clinical studies on Asian-specific carcinomas have not been conducted much, so BeiGene is centering on expanding the area where benefits can be obtained.”
In detail, Yang pointed out that all clinical studies are mostly focused on the United States, Europe and Japan, and the population in this region is only 12% of the total population, and said, “BeiGene is expanding the area where clinical trials are possible so that there are no neglected patients, and as a result, the cost of clinical trials per patient is also lowered, and this becomes a basis for suggesting more reasonable drug prices.”
◇Goal is to supply innovative new drugs in a timely manner in Korea
General manager Yang believes that Korea is a very important market for BeiGene since Korea is recognized worldwide for its outstanding clinical capabilities.
Currently, BeiGene is conducting 22 clinical studies on 700 patients at 250 institutions (including overlapped institutions) in Korea and plans to expand the number of clinical studies this year.
BeiGene hopes to speed up the entry into the insurance coverage of licensed medicines and actively utilize free support programs to increase accessibility.
“Korea is a priority country for Beigene's clinical trials worldwide and ranks fourth in terms of scale in global clinical trials including China,” Yang said. “We are highly evaluating Korean researchers, so early clinical trials such as phase 2 and phase 1, as well as phase 3, are underway.”
Yang added, “If it is possible to recruit patients, we aim to conduct all clinical trials of BeiGene in Korea in the future. Our goal is to grow into one of the largest clinical teams in the industry in Korea within the next five years.”
"Through this, we will continue to make efforts to help Korean researchers participate in various clinical studies and to benefit patients.”
“Including Brukinsa, we will do our best to present reasonable drug prices that can be accepted in Korea for future medicines,” Yang addressed. “All teams in BeiGene Korea are working together to approach BeiGene’s mission in various ways, including clinical research and free supply programs, such as improving accessibility through introduction in insurance coverage.”
Lastly, Yang pointed out, “I think the most important priority is to supply innovative new drugs in Korea in a timely manner. We are trying to prioritize accessibility more than any other global company that has entered Korea.”