Daewoong Pharmaceutical is one of the pharmaceutical companies that led the combination drug craze in the Korean hypertension treatment market.
Daewoong first released Olostar, the world’s first combination drug that combined angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB)-based Olmesartan and a statin-based Rosuvastatin, in April 2014.
Olostar recorded sales of 5 billion won ($4.4 million) in just nine months after its release and grew sharply to 12.1 billion won in sales in 2017.
With the emergence of numerous competitive combination drugs, the growth trend has since slowed somewhat. However, the drug remains one of the leading hypertension combination drugs in the market with sales of 8.5 billion won in 2018, and 8.2 billion won in 2019.
In May last year, Daewoong went one step further by launching Olomax, a three-drug combination drug that added a calcium channel blocker (CCB)-based amlodipine to Olostar.
Olomax is the world’s first incrementally modified drug that combines angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB)-based olmesartan, calcium channel blocker (CCB)-based amlodipine, and statin-based rosuvastatin in one pill.
The company has also launched a high-dose version of Olomax, an additional 20 mg of olmesartan, this past May.
Olomax proved the effect of lowering blood pressure and improving lipid levels through multi-center clinical trials in Korea and showed rapid growth by entering four of the “Big Five hospitals” in Korea within six months after its launch.
It achieved second place in the outpatient prescription market in the ARB+CCB+statin 3-drug combination market within 10 months of its launch in February.
According to Daewoong, patient compliance is the major strength of its combination product.
“Since several ingredients are contained in one formulation, the number of drugs is reduced, resulting in high patient satisfaction,” the company said. “Also, by reducing the size of the tablet to less than 1cm, it helps to improve patient compliance.”
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), patients taking combination drugs to treat hypertension improved their compliance by 36 percent compared to taking multiple pills. The journal also reported a 29 percent reduction in death risk in hypertensive patients when adherence was improved.
The company also stressed that price competitiveness is advantageous for Olostar, as it is cheaper to take a combination drug than take several medicines.
The combination drug has a disadvantage that can increase drug interactions or adverse reactions because several components are contained in one formulation.
Daewoong Pharmaceutical applied its “release rate control double-layer tablet” platform technology to solve this problem, for which the company has acquired local and foreign patents. The technology modulates the drug release pattern for each component to optimize absorption in the body without drug interactions.
“As the number of patients who need to take drugs for hypertension and hyperlipidemia at the same time increases, the market for combination drugs with improved medication convenience is drawing attention,” said Lee Chang-jae, Vice president of sales marketing at Daewoong Pharmaceutical. “Olomax will establish itself as a treatment for hypertension and dyslipidemia that is trusted by more patients based on its excellent product strength and medication compliance.”
According to statistics released by the Korean Society of Hypertension in 2018, one in three Korean adults suffers from hypertension, while about 8.2 million people receive hypertension treatment.
Also, 60 percent of all hypertension treated patients take two or more types of hypertension drugs, and 17.7 percent of patients take three or more types of hypertension drugs.
In line with such a trend, the hypertension combination drug market is also growing. As the development of combination drugs for hypertension has been actively progressing for the past five years, the market share of combination drugs in the hypertension treatment market exceeded 50 percent last year.
Recently, the market size of the combination of angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB) + calcium channel blocker (CCB) + statin is also growing rapidly.
According to UBIST’s outpatient prescriptions, the combined sales of ARB+CCB+statin-based drugs in 2019 was 13.7 billion won, a hefty increase of 342.6 percent from 3.1 billion won in 2018.