LG Chem Enters Chinese Osteoarthritis Treatment Market

LG Chem Enters Chinese Osteoarthritis Treatment Market

■ Partners with Yifan Pharmaceutical to launch Synovian injection for osteoarthritis in China
■ Targets KRW 200 billion market with China’s first single-injection formulation, emphasizing administration convenience

LG Chem is making a concerted effort to penetrate the Chinese osteoarthritis treatment market.

On the 3rd, LG Chem announced that its Chinese partner, Yifan Pharmaceutical, has launched LG Chem’s single-injection osteoarthritis treatment, Synovian (export name for China: Hyruan One), in the Chinese market.

Yifan Pharmaceutical, established in 2000 and headquartered in Hangzhou, China, is a comprehensive pharmaceutical company with a broad business portfolio that includes anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and endocrine/metabolic diseases. The company has built an extensive sales pipeline across China, employs around 6,000 people, and records annual sales of KRW 1 trillion (USD 800 million). It is highly regarded for its R&D and commercialization capabilities, as evidenced by its inclusion in the China 100 Most Innovative Pharmaceutical Companies (CPIE 100, 2022).

Synovian is a cross-linked hyaluronic acid (HA) knee osteoarthritis treatment developed with LG Chem’s proprietary technology and launched in Korea in 2014. Its key feature is achieving similar therapeutic effects to multi-injection formulations with a single injection.

Clinical phase 3 trials on Chinese knee osteoarthritis patients demonstrated that Synovian’s effectiveness in reducing knee pain and improving joint function, as well as its safety, were comparable to those of multi-injection HA products.

Based on Synovian’s administration convenience, its leading position in the Korean market, and business experience, LG Chem analyzed that rapid market penetration would be possible in China as well. Consequently, LG Chem entered into a business partnership with Yifan Pharmaceutical and has been preparing the business in stages.

Yifan Pharmaceutical started local phase 3 clinical trials in August 2019, applied for marketing approval in December 2021, and received the approval in April 2023. Following approximately a year of negotiations with the Chinese government, Synovian was successfully included in the National Reimbursement Drug List (NRDL), signaling a successful market entry.

According to pharmaceutical market research firm IQVIA, the Chinese market for HA injections for osteoarthritis is valued at KRW 200 billion, making it the third-largest market in the world after the United States and Japan. Synovian is currently the only single-injection formulation in the Chinese market, providing a clear competitive edge over the commonly prescribed five-injection regimen (one injection per week for five weeks).

LG Chem conducted a treatment preference survey among Chinese doctors, with a significant majority (87%) indicating a willingness to use the single-injection formulation, citing advantages such as the reduced need for travel by patients and minimized exposure to infection.

LG Chem is focusing on enhancing Yifan Pharmaceutical’s business capabilities by regularly operating an onboarding program to quickly transfer its domestic business experience with Synovian. Furthermore, the Company plans to actively support Yifan’s local sales and marketing activities by developing academic content for physicians and promoting academic exchanges between Korea and China.

Hwang In-cheol, Senior Vice President of LG Chem’s Primary Care Business Division, stated, “We will accelerate market penetration through a strategic collaboration framework to meet the needs of Chinese arthritis patients seeking new treatment options. By leveraging the competitive advantage of Synovian, China’s first single-injection osteoarthritis treatment, we aim to lead a paradigm shift in treatment.”