J&J dumps Hanmi obesity drug following midphase trials

Hanmi’s stock began descending toward its current low when Boehringer dumped a cancer drug. (Raysonho/CC0)

Johnson & Johnson has returned the rights to HM12525A to Hanmi Pharmaceutical after getting a look at data from an obesity trial. The decision is another blow for Hanmi, which lost a $690 million deal with Eil Lilly in January and will now forego up to $810 million in milestones from J&J.

Hanmi partnered GLP-1/glucagon dual receptor agonist HM12525A with J&J in 2015, receiving $105 million upfront and a chance to pocket many times that amount in milestones. J&J put the drug, also known as JNJ-64565111, through a series of phase 1 and 2 trials to assess its potential in indications including Type 2 diabetes and obesity but has now decided to walk away from the asset.

According to Hanmi, J&J took the action after reviewing data from phase 2 obesity trials. J&J recently wrapped up two midphase trials of JNJ-64565111 in severely obese patients, with or without diabetes, primarily to assess if the drug reduces body weight.

The trials met their primary body weight endpoint, according to Hanmi, but blood glucose control data from the study of obese diabetics deterred J&J from advancing the asset. Hanmi is yet to close the door on further developing HM12525A independently of J&J, telling investors it will assess the blood glucose control data before deciding on a path forward for the asset.

Investors responded to the news by driving Hanmi’s shares down by around 30%. The drop is one of a few steep declines suffered in recent years by Hanmi, which is trading around 66% below the highs it hit in 2016.

Hanmi’s stock began descending toward its current low in 2016 when Boehringer Ingelheim dumped a cancer drug following deaths in a clinical trial. The drug, olmutinib, limped on after Boehringer’s action, only for Hanmi to kill it off last year in response to slow enrollment in a clinical trial. Lilly added to Hanmi’s woes in January when it returned the rights to a BTK inhibitor.