Dr Nabil Hanna, Biogen Idec’s former executive vice president of research and chief scientific officer, yesterday agreed to fork out some $372,000 to settle charges of insider trading, the US Securities and Exchange Commission said yesterday.

In its complaint, the SEC alleged that Dr Hanna obtained “illicit profits” totaling around $124,000 from trading in the shares of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals prior to its announcement in September 2003 that it had entered into an agreement with Aventis to develop and market a potential cancer treatment known as the VEGF-Trap. The SEC also claims that in early July 2003, Regeneron’s representatives contacted Biogen to discuss a potential joint venture to develop and market the VEGF-Trap, which led to possible JV talks between Biogen and Regeneron, when Dr Hanna learned that the VEGF-Trap was both scientifically and commercially viable, that Regeneron’s pre-clinical trials had produced positive results, and that the product had blockbuster potential. Armed with this confidential information, it is alleged that Dr Hanna purchased 17,500 Regeneron shares on August 18 and 19, 2003, at prices ranging from $13.95 to $14.15 per share, which he sold for a $124,000 profit on September 9, 2003, one day after Regeneron announced its agreement with Aventis.

Although Dr Hanna has neither admitted nor denied the allegations, he has agreed to pay $124,000, plus prejudgment interest, and a civil penalty of $248,000, additionally agreeing to an order barring him from serving as an officer or director of a public company. He resigned from his position at Biogen Idec last year after the SEC probe began [[17/05/04f]].