SEOUL — Medytox, a major botulinum toxin (botox) producer in South Korea, has acquired a 16.7 percent stake in Evolus, the U.S. partner of Daewoong Pharmaceutical, as part of a deal to end a protracted legal battle and rescind a U.S. trade panel’s decision in December 2020 to order a 21-month ban on Daewoong’s products in the American market.
Medytox said in a regulatory filing on February 22 that the company and its U.S. partner, AbbVie, purchased a 16.7 percent stake in Evolus for 53.5 billion won ($48.5 million). Through the deal, Medytox got leeway to make up for losses. It’s Medytox that has launched a legal fight, but the company suffered a setback in the domestic market in June 2020 when South Korea’s public health watchdog canceled approval for three botox products for fabricating test data.
Evolus agreed to pay $35 million in cash, plus royalties on botox sales in the U.S. for 21 months. It was also given a license to sell botox in the European Union and other countries. Medytox and its American partner would ask the International Trade Commission (ITC) to rescind its import ban. However, Daewoong is not a party to the agreement, which would not affect disputes in South Korea and elsewhere.
Botulism toxins are produced by bacteria of the genus Clostridium. Medytox introduced its botox product, named Meditoxin in South Korea and Neuronox abroad, for the aesthetic treatment of facial wrinkles. Daewoong unveiled Nabota for the treatment of frown lines in 2016 and secured approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Medytox has filed lawsuits in U.S. and South Korean courts, accusing Daewoong of violating trade secrets by recruiting a former Medytox employee to steal information on strains and manufacturing. Medytox insisted that its botulinum strain “Meditoxin” cannot be found in a natural state because it does not form spores. Daewoong said that Medytox’s botulinum strain is not a trade secret as its manufacturing process has already been published in papers.