OBI Pharma Inc (台灣浩鼎) yesterday said it is to give an oral presentation about its new breast cancer vaccine, OBI-822, at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in June.
The company, which received a notice from ASCO late on Wednesday, said ASCO is among the world’s largest and most influential professional organizations representing physicians of all oncology specialties providing care for cancer patients.
With more than 40,000 members, the organization reviews about 5,800 submissions each year, and OBI Pharma’s OBI-822 is among only 3.8 percent of submissions that have been selected for an oral presentation this year, the company said.
However, OBI Pharma chairman Michael Chang (張念慈) said that ASCO’s selection has little commercial implication for the company’s new treatment.
“ASCO’s selection is by no means an endorsement for the new drug, and will not affect the progress of ongoing clinical trials and regulatory approval, apart from a much-needed boost to morale among our employees,” Chang said at a press conference.
OBI Pharma has been embroiled in controversy since Feb. 21, when it announced that the results of its second and third-phase clinical trials of OBI-822 showed “no statistical significance.”
Since then, OBI Pharma shares have plummeted by nearly 40 percent from this year’s high of NT$719 on Feb. 19 to NT$351 at the end of Wednesday’s session.
The shares were suspended for trading on the Taipei Exchange to conform with regulatory guidelines at a time of disclosing material information.
Academia Sinica President Wong Chi-huey (翁啟惠), a close collaborator with the company, has also come under fire since it was revealed that his daughter, Wong Yu-shioh (翁郁秀), had sold a portion of her holdings in OBI Pharma on Feb. 18, just before prices went spiraling downward.
The Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday reported that Wong Chi-huey had authorized the stock sale with his daughter’s stock broker at E.Sun Securities Co (玉山證券).
Regarding the allegations, Chang said that the company employs industry-standard protocols, where clinical trial information is handled and compartmentalized by external organizations.
“There were no instances of information leakage, and the allegations of insider trading using non-public information are unfounded,” Chang said, adding that Wong Chi-huey did not know of the discouraging clinical trial results until about two hours before the company held a press conference on Feb. 21.
However, Chang was unable to explain how Wong Chi-huey was able to authorize the stock sale on behalf of his daughter.
Wong Chi-huey had previously pledged that he did not hold any biotechnology stock positions.
“The company had instructed board members, managers and employees to halt all stock trades for one month prior to Feb. 21, but we had failed to include Wong Chi-huey and the company regrets the oversight,” Chang said.
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