De Tijd blijft onverkort achter interview topman Ablynx staan

Ablynx-CEO Edwin Moses (foto: Tom Verbruggen) ©Tom Verbruggen

Ablynx reageert op het interview dat CEO Edwin Moses zaterdag in De Tijd gaf. De biotechnologiegroep benadrukt dat er 'geen materiële nieuwe informatie' in het interview stond en zet een eigen Engelstalige versie van het interview online. De Tijd blijft bij het interview en geeft ter staving enkele quotes in het Engels aan met wat CEO Edwin Moses exact zei.

De koers van Ablynx ging vrijdagmiddag hard onderuit na de online voorpublicatie van een interview met CEO Edwin Moses. In een reactie maandag stelt Ablynx dat die voorpublicatie een 'onjuiste weergave' was van het interview. Intussen is het aandeel vandaag al weer met meer dan 9 procent gestegen.

Ablynx benadrukt dat er in het interview - waarin Moses voor het eerst uitgebreid ingaat op de Pfizer-tegenslag van begin november - 'geen materiële nieuwe informatie' staat.

Ook in de volledige versie van het interview ziet Ablynx graten. 'Ten behoeve van investeerders hebben wij op onze website onze Engelse vertaling van het artikel geplaatst, wat wij aanzienlijk hebben aangepast om te corrigeren wat naar onze mening materiële feitelijke fouten in verklaringen en citaten zijn.'

De Tijd benadrukt volledig achter het interview te staan. Ter staving, enkele quotes in het Engels, de moedertaal van CEO Edwin Moses, die weergeven wat de topman exact verklaarde. Om duidelijk te maken dat de topman wel degelijk stelde wat hij in het interview van zaterdag is meegegeven.

Over het afhaken van Pfizer voor het reumamiddel van Ablynx: ‘Pfizer had serious discussions about how they could fund the next trials and that took many, many months. There was even a discussion whether we would co-fund it with them. That, we chose not to do because we didn’t think it was in our interest. Once it was clear that they wouldn’t invest or couldn’t invest, we wanted to get everything back. For me, the biggest danger in all this… I wanted them to take it forward, that’s obvious.  But if they wouldn’t take it forward, I wanted everything back. I didn’t want it just to stop. It could have been that they didn’t give it back to us. We were able to negotiate with them, so we got everything back, a huge amount of data, all the intellectual property. In return for that we agreed to incentivize them by giving them some payment when we commercialize. So we announced that they could get up to 50 million dollars. But only if the product reaches the market.'

Over het verderzetten van het onderzoek naar het reumamiddel: ‘We wanted that product back, we thought it was valuable, but now to take it forward we need someone to license it. We won’t be able to put it forward, we won’t be able to do the next step of clinical trials. So we will only take it forward with a partner. We are in a very early stage but we just started to have some preliminary discussions in San Francisco when we were there last week. I won’t say with whom, but with more than one definitely. We are talking to quite a range, but it’s such an early stage, it’s too early to say.'

Over het vinden van een partner voor het reumamiddel: ‘I think that by the end of this year we will know whether we’ve got interested parties or not. I don’t mean that there’s got to be a deal by then, but it will be clear then whether we will have discussions which are advancing in the right direction.’

Over de reactie van het personeel, de wetenschappers van Ablynx: ‘They hate it, because they know how the products work. They are the ones that see all the data. Since the announcement a lot of my personal time has been set on internal communication. With small groups of people, trying to have this discussion with them. Because they ask the same questions as you.’

Over de reactie van Edwin Moses en of hij heeft overwogen Ablynx te verlaten: ‘No, you have to remember that it’s always the choice of the board of directors when they think you should. I think, when anything goes wrong like that, you have to review your performance. My current view is I want to stay and take this company back to where it was. It wouldn’t be good to do anything else. One of the advantages of being older - and there are not many - is that you see things go good and go bad, good, bad… and that’s the nature.’

Over de toekomst voor Ablynx: ‘We look at every scenario.’

Over de beursnotering en de koersval: ‘It’s not perfect, but these things happen from time to time. It makes us more careful and more willing to partner. If the markets are not available for cash, we are more prepared to work with a broader group of people.’

Over de kostencontrole: ‘With the cashburn we see today, you could easily see three years plus. We have very careful cost control. We think our cost control is probably better than that of our pharmaceutical partners. We know where every euro is spent. That allows us to adapt if money doesn’t come in as quickly as we like. We spend it slower.’

Over programma’s in de koelkast: ‘Absolutely. If that’s what is needed. Things have to be slowed down a little bit, that’s certainly what we can do.’

Over een beursexit: ‘That’s very unusual to do. There are no cases I know of public biotechs going private. We did have to consider it, we still believe that the public markets have got a problem today, but that will resolve itself, and we do believe that the public markets are the right place for a company like Ablynx. Over the longer term, to develop our clinical programs, we do need hundreds and hundreds of millions of euros. It’s the nature of the pharmaceutical business. So we stay. It’s just a period of time where it is less comfortable to be a public biotech company.’

Over zijn optimisme, dat een deuk kreeg: ‘You have dark moments, of course. I try to concentrate on things I can affect. I have to lead the people in the right direction and not pretend that things didn’t happen.’

Over de tegenslag: ‘We’ll never get over it. I think we would be foolish to get over it, because you can learn from all sorts of lessons. It’s also a lesson to see how quickly the emotion can change in a market. One minute we were higher, next minute we weren’t, and yet we felt exactly the same. It brings you down to earth. Be a better organization, because of it. Have we put it in the back of our mind? Yes. We’ve learned the lessons, that we can learn, I think we can improve, in going forward. But it also just made us realize.’
‘This was a setback, look at our share price. But it also has been a benefit in the last months to look at what we have.'


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