Hanmi to expand clinical trial scope via OCI integration

2024.02.27 09:13:01 | 2024.02.27 09:16:25

Hanmi Pharmaceutical‘s president Lim Ju-hyun이미지 확대

Hanmi Pharmaceutical‘s president Lim Ju-hyun

An integration with chemicals giant OCI Group is allowing South Korea’s Hanmi Pharmaceutical Co. to secure financial stability to independently conduct global clinical trials up to the Phase 3 stage, according to Hanmi’s president Lim Ju-hyun.

“Over the past decade, while overseeing the drug development process and business development at the forefront, we faced realistic barriers such as the demanding requirements of our partner companies and financial constraints that prevented us from directly conducting innovative drug development,” Lim said during a recent press conference held on Monday at Hanmi Pharmaceutical’s headquarters in Songpa District, southern Seoul. “Thanks to the integration with OCI Group, Hanmi has secured financial stability to independently conduct global clinical trials up to the Phase 3 stage.”

Lim told reporters that regarding the recent decision on the merger between Hanmi Pharmaceutical and OCI Group, she “will not deny that the inheritance tax imposed on the family after the passing of former Chairman Lim Sung-ki played a role in securing funds for the integration but that alone cannot explain the decision.”

She added that despite Hanmi Pharmaceutical’s excellent technology and candidate substances, there were situations where they were returned or development was discontinued due to the strategies of companies that received them, which led to financial constraints in completing innovative drug development.

Hanmi Pharmaceutical Group drew significant attention in January 2024 when it announced an unusual cross-combination with OCI Group. This involved creating a joint holding company, with Lim Ju-hyun and OCI Holdings Co. Chairman Lee Woo-hyun establishing a cooperative management system as CEOs of each of the holding companies.

Doubts about the synergy of the integration were raised in the market immediately after the announcement.

Regarding this, Lim said, “From Hanmi’s viewpoint, as we have an overseas business that focuses on the United States and Europe, there is great anticipation as we share market experience with OCI, which is actively involved in business in Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia.”

Hanmi Pharmaceutical will be able to export chronic disease-related products to Southeast Asia via OCI’s infrastructure and receive support for new drugs entering major markets thanks to the expertise from OCI’s subsidiaries, one of which is currently in talks with the U.S. government for the company’s solar business.

Describing how Hanmi chose OCI as a partner, Lim noted that OCI has been investing in the pharmaceutical and bio sectors since 2018.

“The decision was possible because it was not a unilateral incorporation of Hanmi into OCI but a structure where both groups participate in management,” she said.

Lim emphasized that the structure created via lengthy discussions with OCI is the optimal way for Hanmi to sustain its current state.

Meanwhile, there are challenges to overcome before the actual integration.

Lim Jong-yoon, the eldest son of Hanmi Pharmaceutical‘s founder and late chairman, and second son Lim Jong-hoon opposed the integration decision led by Lim Ju-hyun and her mother, Hanmi Pharmaceutical Chairman Song Young-suk, and have filed an injunction lawsuit.

Lim Ju-hyun expressed her intention to conclude the integration with OCI quickly and focus on achieving results in new drug development.

“We expect the integration process to be completed by the first half of 2024,” she said.

Lim also presented the goal of growing the Hanmi Pharmaceutical Group into a comprehensive healthcare company with 5 trillion won ($3.8 billion) in sales from new drug development within the next decade.

By Kim Jee-hee and Lee Eun-joo

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