Navigating South Korea’s Healthcare Paradox
Published in eyeforpharma August 2017 by Marc Yates
In recent years, we have witnessed an explosion of interest among our pharmaceutical clients in conducting research in South Korea. Some emerging market analysts have suggested a ‘K’ should be added to BRIC, reflecting the country’s burgeoning economic status and its increasingly inclusion in global studies, not just regional Asia Pacific or emerging market studies. Indeed, there is ongoing debate about whether South Korea can still be considered ‘emerging’ as it is a growing player in the pharmaceutical industry in its own right.
As well as looking at South Korea’s healthcare outlook in more detail, in this article we also ask why the country lies at the extremes of two conflicting global health indicators – longest life expectancy and highest suicide rates.
South Korea: The next global player?
In this paper, we will explore some of the key trends and outlooks for South Korea in more detail, including what lies behind its presence at the extremes of two conflicting global health indicators: longest life expectancy and highest suicide rates.
Over the past two decades South Korea has experienced rapid economic growth. Low unemployment, rising incomes and increased health insurance coverage have all contributed to the development of a robust healthcare sector and catalysed pharmaceutical sales. South Korea is currently the 13th largest pharmaceutical market in the world and the third largest in Asia, with predicted compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.4%. increasing from US$18.6 billion in 2016 to US$20.4 billion by 2020.
North Asia infographic
North Asia's largest markets; China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, are home to more than 1.6 billion people and is a key global growth region. With pharmaceutical sales of more than $215bn, it is an attractive region for pharma, however one in which each market differs in terms of opportunities and challenges.