As the cigarette price will be raised by 80 percent and the smoking section in specialty coffee shops will be closed effective on January 1 next year, an increasing number of smokers is trying to quit smoking from the New Year's day. As it happens, Handok Pharmaceutical is quietly rising as the biggest beneficiary of the current anti-smoking milieu. That's because Handok is currently claiming as much as 66 percent of the nicotine patch market with its "Nicostop" brand.
The demand for smoking cessation supplements like nicotine patch and gum has tripled in 2004 when the cigarette price was raised by 500 won. This time again, more smokers try to quit with the help of the quit-smoking drugs.
The sales of the supplements rose 14 percent in the third quarter of this year alone from a year ago. Of this, the sales of Handok's Nicostop have increased 11 percent for the past one year.
Handok is prepared to benefit from the bonanza by launching Nicostop Gum early this year. The safe dose for a smoker who consumes 20 cigarettes a day or more is four weeks of Nicostop 30, followed by eight weeks of lighter dose nicotine patches in stages. The price for a pack usable for one week is 10,000 to 12,000 won, with the total cost for three months reaching 120,000 to 150,000 won.
The Ministry of Health & Welfare is reviewing an idea of making nicotine patches and gums eligible for health insurance coverage. Once it is done, the drug industry officials expect that the market will expand rapidly.