Thomas Ko

Advance Awards Asia Impact Leader Category Finalist

Thomas Ko is an internationally recognised expert in oral biological drug delivery and sports medicine. During his 45-year pharmaceutical career, he has embraced the attitude he says was instilled in him while studying in Australia: to be inventive and believe nothing is impossible. Thomas has developed more than 200 commercial products throughout his career, mostly for human and animal health, with his major achievement being the development of sublingual (under the tongue) delivery of treatments for people with chronic diseases like diabetes or hepatitis B and C, previously administered via injection. A life-changing moment came in 2004 when he sold his first company to spend time with his terminally ill father. They discussed natural ways of boosting the immune system which led Thomas to think more about the role of immunotherapy in cancer treatment, a goal that ultimately led him to develop sublingual delivery immunotherapy for cancer patients.

Born in Hong Kong to an eminent pharmaceutical family, Thomas Ko immigrated to study Pharmaceutical Science. Thomas became the first male pharmacist to be appointed to Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital before Vitapharm Pharmaceutical Pty. Ltd. Specialising in human and veterinary pharmaceutical products, the company won the Australian Business Award in 2002. That same year the company was publicly listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. In 2008, Thomas was appointed Sports Medicine and Nutrition consultant to the Chinese Ministry of Sports during the Beijing Olympics in 2008. He and his products played a major role in assisting 125 Chinese mountaineers to relay the Olympic torch to the peak of Mount Everest. In 2012, Thomas established BioLingus Technology Development (Hong Kong) P.L., and in 2015, became the founder and a major shareholder in BioLingus GMBH (Switzerland). The company was awarded the Most Innovative Biotech Company 2016 award from European CEO Magazine for its non-invasive sublingual drug delivery technology, and was presented the award at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 2017.