Why Korea is a Top Destination for Clinical Trials

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With a population of more than 50 million people and universal access to the healthcare system, South Korea has one of the highest levels of satisfaction with healthcare in the world. The country has positioned life sciences and biotechnology as key focus areas, experiencing rapid growth thanks to continuous investment and government support through funding programs to foster research and development activities. As a result, South Korea has developed significant experience in conducting clinical trials and has established a reputation in the global scientific community.

Korean Clinical Trial Landscape

Combining expertise, well-trained professionals, advanced infrastructure, and high population density, South Korea has become one of the world's leading locations for clinical trials and in 2021 it accounted for a 3.5% share of global clinical trial activity according to GlobalData. Oncology was the leading therapy area for industry sponsored clinical trials in 2021 with a 38.6% share, followed by Metabolic Disorders at 9.5%, Gastrointestinal at 9.2%, Cardiovascular at 9.0%, and Infectious Disease at 8.6%.

Why Consider Korea for your Next Clinical Trial

Optimal Setting for Clinical Research

South Korea has accumulated significant experience in conducting clinical trials, made possible because of, among other factors, the availability of advanced technology in research infrastructures, state of the art data analysis systems, and top medical facilities including “Clinical Trial Centers.” Many of the centers have world-class facilities including Phase 1 units and experienced clinical trial teams focused on excellence and ethics. Moreover, after a regulatory overhaul in the early 2000s, the approval process in South Korea is generally efficient and fast compared to other countries in the region, and the Food and Drug Administration (MFDS), the regulatory body in charge of overseeing and regulating pharmaceutical products in South Korea, works closely with other international regulatory agencies which helps facilitate the process for drugs that are also being evaluated in other countries.

Population Characteristics for Clinical Trials

South Korea has a high population density with more than 50 million inhabitants in 100,000 square kilometers and over 20% of the population located in Seoul. This robust population base helps facilitate access to clinical research subjects. Disease patterns are similar to those in Western countries and according to www.statista.com in 2022, the number of deaths caused by malignant neoplasms (cancer) in South Korea amounted to around 162.7 per 100 thousand inhabitants and the number of deaths caused by malignant neoplasms (cancer), heart disease, and COVID-19 accounted for around 39.8 percent of total deaths. Patients in South Korea often show a high level of participation and compliance in clinical trials, which helps the development process and overall quality.

Geographic and Political Environment

The government's commitment to fostering a strong business environment for life sciences and promoting R&D initiatives is an important consideration to ensure the continuity and success of clinical trials. In fact, the government has established several programs to support R&D in life sciences, which may make it more attractive for sponsors to conduct clinical trials in the country. Another interesting feature of clinical development in South Korea is its strategic geographic location and a network of international collaborations, which make it an ideal destination for starting projects that can later be expanded to other countries in the APAC region. This international collaboration may also prove advantageous for the development of global clinical trials in the region.

Originally established in Japan, Linical is global Contract Research Organization (CRO) for full-service drug development with the experience, resources, and know-how to successfully conducting clinical trials throughout the APAC region, including South Korea.

As an experienced Korean CRO, our team of local area experts possess deep regulatory knowledge and excellent relationship with sites, KOLs and PIs to provide guidance and the best solutions to avoid obstacles and ensure the success of your studies in Korea.

Linical provides a full spectrum of drug development services from early stage to large-scale, multinational studies. Our areas of focus include Phase I-IV studies in oncology, neurology & psychiatry, immunology & vaccine, and endocrinology & metabolic diseases.

Want to learn more about Linical's CRO services in Korea? Contact us!