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.

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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.

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