Clinical trials success showcases Korea–Australia pharma collaboration

27 Feb 2019

Korean biopharma company, PharmAbcine, is commencing full-scale clinical trials of a brain cancer treatment in the United States, following pioneering early phase trials in Australia.

Seoul-based PharmAbcine engaged Novotech to undertake the initial trials in Queensland. Novotech is one of Australia’s largest contract research organisations (CROs).

According to Dr Jin-san Yoo, President and CEO of PharmAbcine, the trials showcase Australia as a preferred partner for Asia-based drug development companies. Australia provides access to a wide diversity of patients for trial enrolment and the ease of working in a proximate time zone.

“The CROs in Australia have demonstrated excellent performance,” says Dr Jin-san. “Also, the tax refund program makes Australia a cost-effective host for clinical trials.”

The PharmAbcine treatment involves using a receptor-inhibitor/human angiogenic drug called Tanibirumab to retard the growth of glioblastoma brain tumours. Glioblastoma is typically a fast-growing cancer associated with low survival rates.

Novotech completed early phase trials in Queensland in August 2017. Besides gaining approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), PharmAbcine has also obtained the green light for a combined Tanibirumab–immunology trial in Australia.

As part of its expansion plans, PharmAbcine has established an office in Brisbane and will expand its footprint in other Australian cities.

Australia is emerging as a competitive host nation for clinical trials. According to a Frost & Sullivan report, Phase 2 trials typically cost 28 per cent less to conduct in Australia, as compared to the US. When tax incentives are included, the advantage increases to 60 per cent.

Overseas biopharma companies are also attracted by Australia’s advanced medical research environment, rapid trial approvals and robust regulatory framework. With over 50 clinical research networks and bio labs, Australia typically hosts 1,300 clinical trials each year on average.

An additional competitive advantage for Australia is that data generated from trials in Australia is readily acceptable by major international regulatory bodies, including with US FDA, and the European Medicines Agency.

Dr Jin-san Yoo will present the company’s success story at BioKorea 2019, Asia’s premier biotech event, to be held in Seoul on 17–19 April.

AusBiotech and Austrade are co-organising the Australia National Pavilion at BioKorea. Please contact Abdul Ekram, Manager, International Health at Austrade, for details.