SEOUL, March 4 (Yonhap) — South Korea said Thursday it will spend over 2 trillion won (US$1.78 billion) over the next 10 years to help local pharmaceutical companies develop new medicines that generate annual sales of over 1 trillion won.

The country’s ambitious 2.18 trillion won project, which starts in July this year, will be financed with state funds of 1.47 trillion won and 700 billion won from the private sector over the 10-year period, according to the Ministry of Science and ICT.

The earmarked spending marks a sharp rise from the previous similar scheme which ran from 2011 until September last year. The government spent some 263 billion won for the just-ended medicine development project.

Muk Hyun-sang, who led the country’s preceding drug development project, will oversee the country’s renewed efforts for new drugs.