The Kochon Prize is awarded annually to an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to combating TB. It is the largest award specifically devoted to TB, a US$ 65,000 prize that is presented by the Kochon Foundation, an independent Korean non-profit foundation.
The Kochon Prize was established in 2006 in honor of the late Chairman Chong-Kun Lee, founder of the Chong Kun Dang Pharmaceutical Corporation and Kochon Foundation. “Kochon” was his pen name. Throughout his career, Chairman Lee was committed to improving access to low-cost, life-saving antibiotics and anti-TB medicines.
Born in poverty in a small Korean village in 1919, Chairman Lee was nevertheless able to establish a small drugstore in 1941. He grew this into what was to become one of the most important pharmaceutical manufacturers in the country. He realized that the high price of imported drugs negatively affected access to lifesaving medicines and decided he could reduce prices though bulk production of drugs by synthesis and fermentation technology.
In the 1960s, Chairman Lee's company began producing anti-TB medicines such as ethambutol and rifampicin using its own technology and soon became a major supplier. Chairman Lee was then able to share his achievements with society. Having initially helped employees and young people pursue educational opportunities, in March 1973, he established the Kochon Foundation to award scholarships, grants and research funds.