SEOUL: Samsung, the South Korean electronics and engineering conglomerate, has announced plans to expand its business into the pharmaceutical industry with a particular focus on biotechnology.

As the electronics market begins to reach saturation point, the company is looking further afield at other markets and is investing at least $2bn in biopharmaceuticals.

It has a particular interest in developing biosimilar medicines, a generic version of brand-name biotechnology drugs that have lost their patent and which tend to be used for conditions such as cancer and arthritis.

Christopher Hansung Ko, CEO at Samsung's Bioepis unit, told Bloomberg the company was already South Korea's largest biotechnology firm and aimed to become one of the biggest players in the world.

"Our mandate is to become No. 1 in everything we enter into, so our long-term goal is to become a leading pharmaceutical company in the world," he said.

"We have an outstanding pedigree of being able to innovate an old process to a new process in order to improve in another sector, so we apply that principle," he continued. "I can't see a reason why we aren't going to be successful."

He said Samsung intends to launch its first biosimilar drug in Europe in 2016 – this will be its own version of Amgen's Enbrel drug treatment for arthritis – to be followed by a version of Johnson & Johnson's Remicade treatment for auto-immune diseases in 2017.

Samsung is likely to develop its own biosimilar products rather than seek acquisitions, he said, and the company hopes to earn annual revenues of 1.8tr ($1.8bn) from biopharmaceuticals by 2020.

The news coincides with the company's announcement that it will move further into the wearables market with the launch its own smart eyewear later this year.

Data sourced from Bloomberg; additional content by Warc staff