Korea Times

Botox war escalates into legal disputes

‘We want to reveal the truth in an open space along with many experts,’ says CEO of top Korean anti-wrinkle product manufacturer

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 11:49am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 11:58am

By Park Jae-hyuk

Conflict over the originality of botulinum toxin (BTX) strain among three major pharmaceuticals Medytox, Hugel Pharma and Daewoong Pharmaceutical will likely result in legal action, as none of them budge.

CEO Jung Hyun-ho of Korea’s top anti-wrinkle product manufacturer Medytox said Friday any lawsuits to be filed by the second and the third-tiers Hugel and Daewoong were “always welcome.”

“Arguing over right and wrong at the court means a public debate that we have demanded from the two firms so far,” Jung said at a press conference at the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry in downtown Seoul.

“We want to reveal the truth in an open space along with many experts.”

Medytox has cast doubts about the sources of Hugel and Daewoong’s BTX products over the past two years, saying the companies might have stolen the toxin strain from Medytox.

Hugel and Daewoong said the doubt is a malicious rumor and they will sue Medytox for defamation and spreading false information. To support its argument, Medytox disclosed the full gene sequences of its own strain at the press conference.

Jung said his company checked the sequences of Daewoong’s BTX strain registered to Genbank - a U.S.-based nucleotide sequence and protein translation database and revealed all 12,912 sequences were 99.99 per cent identical.

He demanded Hugel and Daewoong also unveil the full gene sequences of their strains.

The two companies denied Medytox’s argument, saying that strains having identical genetic traits can always be discovered, even though they are extracted from different areas. Daewoong said its BTX was commercialised after being extracted from soil it owned in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, in 2006. Hugel said it discovered its BTX from rotten canned foods, pickled fish and honey products in 2002. Some industry officials see the recent controversy as a result of the pharmaceuticals’ competition for market share in the U.S.

Although Medytox entered the U.S. market in 2013, signing an export contract with the world’s leading BTX maker Allergan, it is yet to initiate its Phase 3 clinical trials due to belated factory construction. Daewoong, on the other hand, is waiting for approval of its products by the Food and Drug Administration, as it already ended its Phase 3 clinical trials. Hugel is in its Phase 3 clinical trials.