US drugmaker Biogen establishes Korean branch

By Sohn Ji-young

Published : Aug 13, 2017 - 15:40
Updated : Aug 14, 2017 - 17:36

US biopharmaceutical company Biogen has officially established a new South Korean branch to take charge of the firm’s business here, according to news reports Sunday.

Biogen Korea LLC was registered as a new company in Korea on July 14, according to state-issued corporate registration documents open to the public.

Its purpose of establishment includes the development, production, manufacturing, import and export of finished drugs and pharmaceutical products, similar to other global pharmaceutical companies.


Frederick Lawson has been registered as the new chief executive of Biogen Korea while Borna Nabaie has been designated as an executive member, according to the documents. The incoming CEO has worked for Biogen Switzerland while Nabaie has worked for Biogen Japan.

Biogen’s Korean branch comes as the US drugmaker is seeking approval from the Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety to sell Spinraza, a treatment for spinal muscular atrophy, a rare and often fatal genetic disease affecting muscle strength and movement.

Spinraza was approved by US and European drug regulators in December 2016 and May 2017, respectively. It was designated as an orphan drug by the Korean Drug Ministry and is currently undergoing fast-track approval procedures via Biogen’s local partner Synex.

Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Biogen is among the world’s biggest biopharmaceutical companies, generating a revenue of around $1.44 billion in 2016.

Biogen best known in Korea as the developer of the blockbuster anticancer drug Mabthera, also known as Rituxan. The US drugmaker also teamed up with Samsung BioLogics to form Samsung Bioepis as a joint venture in 2012.

As of now, Biogen holds a 5.4 percent stake in Samsung Bioepis with Samsung BioLogics owning the remainder of the shares. However, Biogen has the right to exercise a call option — effective until the end of 2018 — that allows it to expand its stake in Bioepis to up to 49.9 percent.

By Sohn Ji-young (jys@heraldcorp.com)

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The Korea Herald by Herald Corporation