This interview was conducted by Soomin Chun, thanks to Dr. Christopher Hansung Ko, Ph.D, who is the CEO of Samsung Bioepis, a biopharmaceutical firm.
Did other companies not come to try to block the entry of lower priced medicine like yours?
That’s why we formed our own lobby group.
Haha, it’s like you’re playing a game.
We register as a lobby group in Washington D.C., meeting with senators…because we are telling everybody that sure, we are not violating other people’s IP (intellectual property), once it has expired—that’s what the patent system is for—then we want to bring a quality product to as many patients as possible. It’s the patient’s choice. If they prefer a branded product and they want to pay more, that’s fine. But we want more people to have access, and a choice.
But the industry doesn’t want that to happen?
No, they don’t want that. But restrictions pass over time, and the US government with the policy of Obamacare, the VP CIA act has been passed and these products are required to be marketed now, so I think people will change their minds.
What should students that aspire to be bio-pharmacists do currently, at school?
Well, they should definitely study biology. As many subsciences as you can, like chemistry, anatomy. So every class you guys offer in science like physics, you should actively pursue those [classes].
What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
Setting priorities amongst the many good ideas. Trying to pick what we consider the best ones is always challenging, because we don’t have unlimited resources.
Then how do you pick which idea is best?
That’s why we have a process. We have team members, everybody speaks and then at the CEO at the end of the day I have to make the decision. Hopefully the right decision.
In a typical workday, how many hours do you work?
At least 10 hours a day.
Isn’t that really tiring?
Yes it is.
Do you think too many or too few people are entering this profession of bio-pharmaceuticals?
In my view, too few, because I think the future for bio-pharmaceuticals is very very bright. This is actually going to surpass what is called traditional pharmaceuticals using small molecules. So if you have the right discipline, and the background, then I think this will create a great career opportunity considering the large market that will be present in the future as well as the few people entering it.
If you could start over again, would you change your career path in any way?
At this point, no. If you asked me ten years ago or ten years from now I might tell you something different, but I would not want to go back right now.
You said one of the things you do is hire new people, so what qualifications do you seek in a new employee?
Just have a passion, sincerity. We care about accessibility, we want to bring the product to more people, but you have got to have the passion to drive you to the goal. Otherwise the process is just too hard.