A local court has refused to issue an arrest warrant against two executives of Kolon Life Science who were on charges of falsely reporting ingredient data to obtain approval for Invossa-K, an osteoarthritis gene therapy. The move is likely to cause a setback for prosecutors’ investigation.
The Seoul Central District Court said on Monday the data submitted so far were not enough to explain the necessity and significance of the detention of the accused -- an executive director of Kolon, surnamed Kim, and a director surnamed Cho, at Kolon Life Science.
“We considered the extent of the allegations of criminal charges, the progress of the investigation, the type and content of the evidence, the progress of the relevant administrative litigation and administrative investigations, the positions of the accused and their work,” the court added.
The rejection of the arrest warrant could put a brake on the prosecution’s investigation into the case.
On Oct. 30, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office sought an arrest warrant for the two executives for the obstruction of justice by submitting fake data. The move came five months after the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety filed a complaint against the company for breaching the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act.
Prosecutors had planned to expand the probe into executives in higher positions after arresting the two. However, the court said the prosecution’s explanation for the charges was insufficient.
Kim was head of the new biopharmaceutical research institute at Kolon Life Science, and Cho was the leader of the clinical development team. The two led the effort to commercialize Invossa in the local market.
At the first pleading for the case of Kolon Life Science against the food and drug ministry to cancel the ministry’s decision to revoke the Invossa license, the ministry submitted a Kolon TissueGene’s 2004 research note as evidence. The note indicated that the company had known Invossa contained kidney-derived cells (GPS-293 cells), instead of cartilage-derived cells.