SEOUL, Dec. 17 (Yonhap) — A U.S. trade panel has upheld its preliminary ruling by siding with South Korean drugmaker Medytox Inc. in a trade dispute, saying its local rival Daewoong Pharmaceutical Co. stole secrets on a botulinum toxin strain, industry officials here said Thursday.

In a final decision, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that Daewoong Pharmaceutical misappropriated trade secrets belonging to Medytox, and used them to develop a botulinum product and imported it into the United States.

The commission also ordered a 21-month ban on imports of Daewoong Pharmaceutical’s botulinum products, they said.

The ruling reduces an initial 10-year ban proposed by a preliminary ruling.’

This undated image, captured from the website of Medytox Inc., shows the company’s botulinum products. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The ruling is expected to reshape the U.S. botulinum toxin market and affect various lawsuits between the two firms in both countries that have been ongoing for the past five years.

In January 2019, Medytox — along with development partner Allergan plc — filed a complaint with the ITC, alleging that Daewoong Pharmaceutical stole trade secrets related to the bacterial strain of the company’s botulinum product in South Korea and introduced it to the U.S. market.

Medytox also claimed that its former employee had handed over trade secrets on the complex manufacturing process that is needed to turn botulinum toxin into a drug product.

Daewoong Pharmaceutical has refuted the argument, saying its botulinum toxin product has its own indigenous strain and that Medytox is trying to block U.S. imports of its rival product.

Medytox has its own botulinum toxin product called Meditoxin, which won South Korea’s first license in 2006 and has maintained the No. 2 position in the country. It is effective in treating various muscle spasms, overactive muscle diseases and facial wrinkles.

Daewoong then released its botulinum toxin named Nabota in the country in 2014. The product also won sales approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in February 2019.

Daewoong Pharmaceutical’s global partner Evolus Inc. is in charge of the sale of Nabota in the United States, which is marketed under the name, Jeuveau.’