SK bioscience, an innovative vaccine and biotech company committed to promoting human health from prevention to cure, announced that the company has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO), a state pharmaceutical enterprise in Thailand, to strengthen Thailand’s vaccine infrastructure.
The agreement ceremony held at the Ministry of Public Health of Thailand, Nonthaburi was attended by Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Mingkwan Suphannaphong, Managing Director of the GPO, Mr. Joyoung Jeon, Charge d’affaires ad interim, Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Thailand, Mr. Jaeyong Ahn, CEO of SK bioscience, and Dr. Hun Kim, President of Global R&BD of SK bioscience.
The purpose of the MOU is to strengthen the responding system against new pandemics and localize Thailand’s vaccine manufacturing capabilities which will extend to the broader Southeast Asia.
The GPO is a state-owned pharmaceutical company established in 1966, supplying medicines and vaccines in Thailand. Thailand’s public hospitals use at least 60% of mandatory GPO products, including pharmaceuticals and medical devices.
Through the MOU, SK bioscience and the GPO will strengthen Thailand’s vaccine development and manufacturing capabilities and collaborate closely in the mid- to long-term to support Thailand becoming a vaccine hub in Southeast Asia.
The health authorities and related organizations of the South Korea and Thailand also agreed to support the cooperative system for health security. The Ministry of Health of the two countries signed an MOU at the World Bio Summit 2022 hosted in South Korea at the end of October last year, promising various cooperation for public health care.
As a first step of the MOU, SK bioscience and the GPO also plan to sign the agreement which transfers drug product manufacturing technology of cell culture-based influenza vaccine developed by SK bioscience for local manufacturing at the plant owned by the GPO.
Once the technology transfer is completed, the GPO will receive drug substance of the influenza vaccine from SK bioscience and plan to obtain a marketing authorization from the regulatory health agency. Both organizations expect that the influenza vaccine manufactured by the GPO will be utilized for the Thailand’s national immunization program.
In the long term, SK bioscience plans to transfer its manufacturing capability and expand supplying self-developed vaccines in other Southeast Asian countries. SK bioscience will collaborate with the GPO, the essential partner in supplying medicines in Thailand and further contribute to promoting public health in Southeast Asia.
Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Public Health said, “Today, this signing event will be an important milestone for Thailand’s history. GPO as our delegate will be cooperating with SK bioscience, the Republic of Korea. I believed that the cooperation with strong intention from both parties will provide more vaccine access, thus leading to an increase in vaccine security for everyone.”
Dr. Mingkwan Suphannaphong, Managing Director of GPO said, “A signing MOU ceremony between GPO and SK bioscience today substantially contributes to a collaboration on manufacturing the cell-culture based influenza vaccine locally in Thailand, namely the trivalent and quadrivalent inactivated influenza vaccines. The drug substance bulk produced by SK will be initially delivered to GPO prior to making the drug products. This collaboration is regarded as part of the technology transfer and license agreement that will be planned to sign shortly after the execution of the MOU is complete.”
Joyoung Jeon, Charge d’affaires ad interim, Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Thailand said, “I hope GPO and SK bioscience’s joint efforts to increase Thailand’s self-sufficiency in vaccine products will bear fruitful results. Furthermore, I hope the two parties find new potential opportunities for research and development on various vaccine technologies as well. I promise the Korean government will provide all necessary support for that.”
Jaeyong Ahn, CEO of SK bioscience said, “The convergence of SK bioscience’s technology, GPO’s manufacturing capability, and the administrative support from health authorities from both countries will form a powerful synergy, exemplifying a successful global partnership poised to effectively respond to the next pandemic. We will continuously contribute ourselves to promote public health in the world.”
Currently, SK bioscience promotes the ‘Glocalization Project’, one of main future strategies of SK bioscience based on its R&D and globally acclaimed manufacturing capabilities. SK bioscience will transfer R&D and manufacturing technologies to low- and middle- income countries with limited vaccine infrastructure for resolving a vaccine inequity issue.
SK bioscience is discussing with governments and local companies in various regions, including the Middle East, and Southeast Asia for the glocalization project.