South Korean pharma market to reach US$20 billion by 2020

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The pharmaceutical market in South Korea is on the increase and is expected to reach more than US$20 billion by 2020.

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According to a report by research and consulting firm GlobalData, the South Korean pharmaceutical market will observe a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 2.4%, increasing from US$18.6 billion in 2016 to US$20.4 billion by 2020. The growth comes as a result of the government’s increasing focus on generics as a way to reduce healthcare expenditure.

Despite this impressive growth, the generics market has an even more impressive growth rate. According to GlobalData’s previous report on South Korea, the country’s generics market increased from US$3.5 billion in 2008 to around US$5.8 billion in 2015, growing at a CAGR of 7%.

The South Korean generics market is expected to increase significantly due to the government’s significant investments in the generics market. Another contributing factor is the fact that many originator drugs are set to lose their patents by 2020, opening the market to generics [1].

Initiatives by the government, such as the Korean Small Business Innovation Research programme and lifting the ban on advertisements for medical services, have helped sustain growth in the pharmaceutical industry. While the Free Trade Agreement with the US, which began in March 2012, has helped to make investment in the South Korean pharmaceutical industry easier for multinational companies.

A 2015 report by Frost & Sullivan also found South Korea to be an important market for generics. It found that in Asia, India is a major market for generic drug manufacturing, followed by South Korea and Japan, and predicted a CAGR for Asia of 17–18% between 2014 and 2018 [2].

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1. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Biological patent expiries []. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2016 May 27]. Available from:
2. GaBI Online - Generics and Biosimilars Initiative. Asian generics makers to focus on market expansion []. Mol, Belgium: Pro Pharma Communications International; [cited 2016 May 27]. Available from:

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