Contributed to national healthcare improvement by developing medicines such as a hepatitis B vaccine
Provided the research foundations for bioscience by establishing the first privately led research
(Late) Huh Young-sup
Chairman, GC Pharma (1941~2009)
- Academic background
B.S., College of Engineering, SNU. (Metal Engineering)
Diplom at the dept. of Metal Engineering, RWTH Aachen University, Germany (Metallurgy)
Completed a Ph.D. course at RWTH Aachen University, Germany
- Professional career
1980 ~ 2009
President, Chairman of GC Pharma
1987 ~ 1994
Chairman of the Korea Genetic Engineering Research Association
1991 ~ 1997
1st Chairman of the Korea Organism Industry Association
1997 ~ 1999
President of the Korea Pharmacy Association
Vice Chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries
Silver Tower Industrial Medal
Order of Civil Merit, Peony Medal
Satria bakti suida kartica award, Indonesian Government
Order of Science and Technology, Creation Medal
Chairman Youngsup Huh served as the president and chairman of GC Pharma and led the domestication of essential medicines such as Hepavax. He is a businessman who grew GC Pharma into the best vaccine-specialized pharmaceutical company.
During his study in Germany, he returned to Korea in 1970 for mandatory military service and joined Far East Pharmacy (changed the business name to Green Cross the next year, currently GC Pharma) which was a national defense company and in which his father was a shareholder. He served as head of the Official Affairs dept., Administration dept., and Planning office and took up the positions of Director in charge of general affairs and Director General, and finally became the president and CEO of the company in 1980. Many pharmaceutical companies at that time focused on making and selling generic versions of overseas pharmaceuticals. However, he developed a special medicine area with simple honesty to contribute to enhancing the people’s healthcare by developing essential medicines that are difficult to produce.
In 1983 after 12 years of research, GC Pharma succeeded to develop Hepavax, a hepatitis B vaccine, which was the third in the world following the USA and France. Annual sales of GC Pharma more than doubled with Hepavax and patients of hepatitis B were able to have the treatment at a low cost of a third of the imported price. Helped by this, the rate of hepatitis B in Korea dropped to the level of other developed countries (2~3%) from 13% when the Olympics were approaching, and this greatly enhanced the profile of Korea.
GC Pharma developed many vaccines such as vaccines for Japanese encephalitis and DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus) and built the first in Korea and sixth in the world blood products factory. In 1988, the company developed Hantavax, a vaccine for hemorrhagic fever, and in 1993, succeeded to produce a chickenpox vaccine, the second in the world. Also, it domesticated many imported essential medicines such as plasmanate and albumin and began fully fledged exports by developing a high value-added medicine, Urokinase, which is a clot buster. Also, it developed a cure for hunter’s syndrome, the second in the world to do so, of which the technology was recently exported to a Chinese company for orphan drugs.
GC Pharma also produced vaccines for the seasonal flu in 2009, of which all the products were depending on imports. When the world was in a panic with a new flu pandemic, the company developed a vaccine in months after the occurrence of the pandemic, the eighth in the world, and made a decisive role for alleviating the new type flu with the timely supply of the vaccine. GC Pharma’s new flu vaccine was evaluated to have several times the social and economic value considering the social cost of stabilizing national chaos, which was in extreme panic, not just the economic amount of saving dollars and healthcare expenses to block the virus. Especially, Chairman Huh gave up his visible profits in spite of the fact that the company could make huge profits via exports as the international vaccine price was hiking, contributing to the national healthcare security by keeping the principle of domestic supply a priority.
He established the Mokam Bio Engineering Institute (currently the Mokam Bio Science Institute) in 1984 in the sense that they returned corporate earnings from the hepatitis B vaccine to society. The Mokam Institute, the first pure private sector research institute established by the authorization of the Ministry of Science and Technology, is contributing to the foundation of bio science research and the development of science and technology in Korea by developing prevention, diagnosis, and curative methods for various diseases based on state-of-the-art bio technology such as genetic engineering.
He established the Korea Hemophilia Foundation in 1990 for hemophiliacs under pain in poor surroundings. The foundation activated surgery and rehabilitation treatments on joints which had been a long-cherished desire of hemophiliacs, and contributed to the enhancement of their quality of life by reducing their economic burdens. In addition, the institute performs a great role to prevent hemophilia via regular free examinations on carriers and coagulation factors, hepatitis, HIV, etc.
Chairman Huh was a superior bio pharmacy businessman as well as a respected businessman who always stressed the social responsibilities of companies. Passing away in 2009 at the age of 68, he donated 2/3 of his shares and inheritance to scholarship and research foundations, showing the exemplar case of social responsibility in the last days of his life.