Regenerative Medicine in South Korea: Bridging the Gap Between Authorization and Reimbursement

Dong Sook Kim, Geunwoo Lee, Hyungyung Cho, Seung Jin Bae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Regenerative medicine (RM) has considerable potential to address the needs of aging-related and uncurable diseases. However, its incorporation into reimbursement of health insurance benefits poses many challenges, including uncertain evidence and insufficient investment. This paper examines the wide gap between manufacturers, regulatory bodies, and health technology bodies regarding reimbursements for RMs focused cell therapy products. In this mixed-methods study, we first analyzed the sales of RMs approved in South Korea. In addition to exploring beliefs related to the market value of RMs, in-depth interviews were conducted with 24 experts (17 from bio-industries, two from the regulatory body, three from a health technology assessment (HTA) body, and two from the Pharmaceutical Benefit Coverage Assessment Committee [PBCAC]). Lastly, we surveyed PBCAC members about the market value of RMs. In total, 15 of the 20 developed cell therapy products are on the market in South Korea, and amounted to 0.24% of total pharmaceutical expenditures in 2018. We identified a wide gap between stakeholders and regulators regarding the market value and pricing of RMs. The interviewees from the pharmaceutical manufacturer association raised the issue of rising manufacturing costs and proposed a specific pricing policy for RMs. To bridge the gap between approval and reimbursement, stakeholders demand an alternative framework of value-based pricing. Conditional health insurance reimbursement may be an alternative to the traditional process in order to generate evidence of the effects of RMs using “risk-based” or “outcome-based” approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Article number737504
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
StatePublished - 30 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2021 Kim, Lee, Cho and Bae.


  • conditional coverage
  • marketing authorization
  • pricing
  • regenerative medicine
  • reimbursement


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