SEOUL, Dec. 1 (Korea Bizwire) – The government is aiming to increase South Korea’s healthy life expectancy from 73 to 76 by 2022 with the aid of technological innovations spearheaded by the emergence of precision medicine and expedited R&D efforts in pharmaceuticals. 1
In a document released on November 30 detailing the various measures necessary to adapt to the coming Fourth Industrial Revolution, the government stated its goal of opening the bioeconomy era through “smart” medical care ranging from prevention to treatment methods.
Precision medicine, an approach that considers genetics, environment and the lifestyle of an individual before prescribing treatment, will play a big part in the government’s push for improved healthcare. The document states that precision medicine may become available to patients as soon as 2020.
Advances in pharmaceuticals were also described as a driver of healthy life expectancy. With 85 new drugs tested in 2015, by reducing R&D costs and duration, the government expects that number to jump to 129 by 2022.
One medical device that will appear in hospitals much sooner is a remotely controlled capsule that can replace traditional endoscopes. Roughly the size of a pill, the capsule can enter the body orally, after which the presiding medical professional will use a joystick to manipulate the capsule.
To ensure greater convenience for hospital-goers, the government will take the “Diagnoses Information Share” program that is being trialed at select locations national by 2022. The program eliminates the need for patients to carry their medical information to and from the hospital, and also cuts costs and will likely decrease the incidence of duplicative health examinations.
For the government’s goals to be reached, medical experts have called for standing regulations governing the medical research sector to be revamped. Precision medicine in particular has been singled out as an area in need of speedy reforms, due to the inclusion of treatments utilizing gene therapy and stem cells. Experts argue that the overly restrictive bioethics laws in place serve to retard further growth in these areas, and if continued could damage South Korea’s competitiveness.
Many South Korean genetic therapy researchers are pursuing their work in either the United States or Japan as the government has limited the scope of genetics research allowed.
The chief of the Korea Biotechnology Industry Organization said he agreed with the direction of the government’s plans for the future of the medical industry. He emphasized, however, that there would need to be 100,000 new data scientists in 10 years possessing the ability to analyze large datasets.
Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Editor’s Note: This article previously stated that South Korea’s life expectancy would increase from 73 to 76 years. The article has been revised to state “healthy life expectancy” instead.