[THE INVESTOR] Korean botulinum toxic maker Hugel is expected to look for a new sales partner before its planned entry into the lucrative US market possibly later next year.
Currently, Austria-based Croma Pharma owns the exclusive distribution rights to sell Hugel’s botulinum toxin products and hyaluronic acid fillers in Europe, North America and Australia following a deal signed in 2015.
Hugel CEO Moon Kyung-yeop
“We could adjust the terms of agreement with Croma to transfer US sales rights to a bigger pharma company in the longer term,” Kwon Jae-yong, a Hugel official, told The Investor on April 18.
Industry sources say related talks are likely to gain backing from Bain Capital, the US private equity firm that has recently acquired a controlling 45.3 percent stake in Hugel for 920 billion won (US$805 million).
“Given that the US is a very picky market for drug promotion, Hugel may want to work with a bigger partner with a more extensive sales network,” said a source close to the matter who declined to be named.
“Bain, one of the biggest investors in the health care sector, will play a key role in related talks.”
The tie-up with Bain comes when the Korean drug maker is preparing to enter the US, the world’s largest botulinum toxic market worth US$1.5 billion dominated by US-based Allergan with a whopping 85 percent market share.
Hguel has carried out the phase 3 clinical development for its own botulinum toxin product Botulax with aims to get final regulatory approval from US authorities later next year.
The firm is pinning high hopes on Bain, its largest shareholder, for its quick penetration into the US market.
“Through Bain, Hugel will have more opportunities to work with big pharma companies, paving the way for it to become a global firm,” the company official said.
Ku Wan-sung, an analyst at NH Investment & Securities, added the newly secured cash will help its overseas expansion.
“Hugel is also likely to consider signing additional license agreements with big drug makers or acquiring a smaller Asian drug maker to boost profitability,” he said.
By Park Han-na (email@example.com)