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Korea is rapidly becoming a regional leader in clinical trials

Oct. 3, 2016

Although a latecomer to clinical research, CRO activity in South Korea has grown rapidly since its origin in 1995. Particularly, since 2007, with the establishment of Korean National Enterprise for Clinical Trials (KoNECT) within the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the number of qualified inspectors and approved research sites has steadily increased, and the infrastructure connecting them has been greatly enhanced. In quality and quantity, this country is now a leading location for clinical trials.

In 2014 there were 361 trials, of which 291 were conducted on behalf of multinational clients. Of the country's approved clinical trial sites, 142 are teaching hospitals. As a result of this patient proximity, trial recruitment is quick and precise. Oncology is one of the most tested therapeutic areas in the country, accounting for 33% of all trials.

Geographically, most of the clinical sites are in the Seoul area, which is now one of the world's most-tested urban centers. This geographical concentration presents some logistical advantages in conducting trials and in defining homogenous groups.

KoNECT has been instrumental in promoting the country's infrastructure and practices to a world standard. In 2015 the initiative became a non-profit foundation, and has further expanded its global connections. South Korea has recently joined international conventions such as the PIC/S, increasing global recognition of the quality standards of its domestic product, giving a strong stimulus to the company's homegrown drug manufacturers. It has recently signed an agreement with the European Clinical Research Infrastructure Network (ECRIN), opening new channels for cooperation and development.

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