Cell Phones and Documents are Seized From Some Hanmi Pharma Employees on Suspicion of Insider Information Leak

Published: Oct 11, 2016

Cell Phones and Documents are Seized From Some Hanmi Pharma Employees on Suspicion of Insider Information Leak October 10, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

SEOUL, South Korea – Did employees from Hanmi Pharmaceuticals alert friends and family not to purchase stock in the company ahead of news of the company’s broken relationship with Boehringer Ingelheim becoming public information?

Investigators at the Financial Service Commission in Korea have seized mobile phones and documents from an unknown number of employees on suspicion that the insider information was leaked through mobile messaging apps, Pulse News reported. According to the report, Kim Yong-beom, a senior official with the Korean government agency, said a team of investigators conducted an inspection of the Hanmi offices last week and “secured documents and mobile phones of related officials after interrogation.”

According to the report, messages were sent out telling unnamed people not to buy Hanmi stocks because bad news was going to be made public on the next day. The report did not indicate how many employees could be involved with the sharing of undisclosed information, nor what level of employee was involved, such as a senior executive.

Pulse reported there was a “sudden spike” in Hanmi shares sold right before Boehringer Ingelheim announced it was severing its development deal with Hanmi for olmutinib, a third-generation EGFR targeted therapy for lung cancer patients. Following the Sept. 30 announcement that Boehringer was breaking off its agreement, which included global commercialization rights, shares of Hanmi plunged more than 18 percent.

Boehringer and Hanmi entered into an agreement in June 2015 that was worth about $730 million. However, in September the company said it did not believe olmutinib would be a competitive drug in the lung cancer market. However, Pharma Live reported that Boehringer terminated the licensing deal following the death of two patients who developed “serious skin reactions.” Following the deaths the company cut back on the dosage amount to reduce toxicity risks, but Pulse said that caused the drug’s efficacy to drop as well.

Hanmi had already received about $65 million from Boehringer, which it will not have to repay.

While Boehringer dropped olmutinib, the company said it has “has successfully launched two products for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), which have been widely adopted and established as important additions to current clinical practice.” Additionally, the company said it continues to increase its R&D investments, with about one-third of its experimental oncology treatments scheduled to enter the clinic within the next year.

Boehringer returned the lung cancer drug one day after Hanmi licensed another cancer drug, a pan-RAF inhibitor, to Genentech in a deal worth up to $910 million.

In addition to the deal with Genentech, Hanmi also has a deal with Johnson & Johnson ’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals to develop and commercialize oxyntomodulin-based drugs that improve metabolism, insulin secretion and suppress appetite.

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