Hanmi’s near 1 billion-dollar agreement nixed

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Hanmi’s near 1 billion-dollar agreement nixed

Hanmi Pharmaceutical lost yet another deal as Janssen Pharmaceutical decided to return development rights for an experimental drug.

With the loss of the near billion-dollar opportunity, the company’s stock plunged by one-quarter.

The Korean pharmaceutical company said Thursday that the Beerse, Belgium-based subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, of New Brunswick, New Jersey, sent a notice Wednesday that it would return the development rights for HM12525A, as Phase 2 clinical trials did not yield satisfactory results.

Although the experimental drug proved to be effective in reducing the body weight of diabetics, HM12525A did not lower the blood sugar of diabetic obesity patients as much as Janssen set in its internal standards.

Hanmi signed an out-licensing deal worth $915 million with Janssen in November 2015. The contract gave Janssen the exclusive rights, excluding Korea and China, and the company has been conducting clinical trials since.

The company received from Janssen an upfront payment of $105 million for the deal, which does not need to be returned.

“Although we were notified of the return, through the Phase 2 clinical trial we found the drug’s efficacy as an obesity drug,” Hanmi said in a statement. “We realize that it’s not easy to develop a new drug but will not stop working to commercialize the drug in the overseas market.”

The latest return of rights brings to three the number of out-licensing setbacks faced by the company.

Earlier this year, U.S.-based Lilly returned licensing rights for Hanmi’s tyrosine kinase inhibitor, which could have brought Hanmi up to $690 million.

In 2016, Germany-based Boehringer Ingelheim canceled a yearlong collaboration that could have brought up to $730 million to the Korean drugmaker.

The market reacted decisively to the news of the cancellation. Hanmi’s share price fell 27.26 percent to 301,500 won ($258).

BY KO JUN-TAE [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]

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