12:00 AM
 | 
Feb 08, 2016
 |  BioCentury  |  Strategy

Worldwide web

How Hanmi is using a network of experts to build a pipeline with global reach

Korean biotech Hanmi Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. is on a mission to globalize. And with six out-licensing deals announced last year, the company appears to be reaping the rewards of its investment in both new technology platforms and a worldwide network intended to provide expertise and global reach.

Hanmi was founded in 1973 as a developer of generic drugs. Today it sells new salts, dosage forms and fixed-dose combinations of generic drugs in China and Korea itself, and worldwide via partnerships. The company reported a net profit of W43 billion ($35 million) in 2014.

About 15 years ago, Hanmi set out to become a global company via a two-pronged strategy, according to SVP and CMO Jeewoong Son. The first prong was developing innovator medicines based on two platforms for biologic and small molecule discovery.

The second prong was partnering those medicines with global players, which led the company to begin building a worldwide network that includes KOLs, investigators, research institutes and contract service organizations to expand its project capacity and capabilities, plus learn how to advance its programs strategically.

"The Hanmi way of working was to play bigger than our size, through the network. That's our open innovation concept," said Son.

The strategy began to bear fruit about five years ago, when Hanmi started getting proof-of-concept data for its innovator products accompanied by an uptick in partner interest.

That culminated in a half-dozen out-licensing deals in 2015 worth a total of $656 million in upfront payments, with the potential for up to $6.4 billion in milestones, plus double-digit royalties (see "Hanmi's Global Reach," page 8).

Those deals contributed to a net profit of W162 billion ($130 million) in 2015, a 275% increase from 2014.

The company found its partners through attendance at major business and scientific conferences around the world. Son said the deals took an average of two years to negotiate.

"Through these collaborations, we have a good opportunity of extending our knowledge and expanding our learning," Son said.

De novo discovery

Hanmi's two discovery engines were developed entirely in house.

The company employs roughly 500 researchers. Son said these include both scientists trained in Korea, and scientists who trained abroad, including postdoctoral work at U.S. universities.

About 150 of the researchers work at Hanmi's Beijing facility.

The first platform, LAPSCOVERY, short for long-acting protein/peptide discovery, achieves weekly or monthly dosing by conjugating a biologic drug to an aglycosylated monomeric Fc region via a flexible linker. The Fc region increases solubility and extends half-life by avoiding renal filtration and reducing receptor-mediated clearance. The linker minimizes loss of intrinsic activity.

Hanmi's most advanced LAPSCOVERY program is eflapegrastim (SPI-2012), a long-acting G-CSF analog. Hanmi is co-developing eflapegrastim with Spectrum Pharmaceuticals Inc. The product is...

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