Belfast Telegraph

Failed company 'took back drug trial volunteer's payment'

 

By Margaret Canning

Payment to at least one patient who took part in a drug trial to treat type 2 diabetes at a failed Belfast company was clawed back after it went bust, it was claimed last night. 

Bio-Kinetic Europe, based in Belfast’s Great Victoria Street, went out of business on Wednesday.

Its debts include £275,000 owed to economic development agency Invest NI.

Just three years ago the company was an award-winning firm — even taking home the Best Small to Medium Business award, presented by DUP leader and former Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, at the 2014 Belfast Telegraph Business Awards.

One patient who took part in the final drugs trial at the company, which was aimed at diabetics in their 50s and 60s, has claimed he ended up with a large overdraft after a payment by cheque was taken back.

The trial took place between June 26 and August 29, and participants were paid for their services this month.

It involved three-night stays in Bio-Kinetic’s ward at the beginning and end of the process, and daily attendance between 7.30am and 9am.

The patient said he was self-employed and had missed six days of work, which he expected would be fully compensated for by the £3,500 payment fee. The man, who did not wish to be named, claimed: “I got paid £3,500 by cheque for the last trial and the money showed up in my account. I spent some of it but then got a call from my bank to say the money was being clawed back, so now I’m £1,000 in the red through no fault of my own.”

He claimed taking part in the trial — his first — had brought no side-effects or other complications.

It’s understand four patients took part in the trial, the last carried out by Bio-Kinetic before its directors decided to call in the administrators.

A spokeswoman for administrators HNH Group said last night: “The administrators confirm that they have been in contact with all parties affected and are hopeful of the issue being resolved in the very near future.”

Bio-Kinetic was led by Crawford McClean and Dr David Bell. It carried out trials for pharmaeutical companies around the world. The directors blamed the administration on the cancellation of key contracts.

Meanwhile, Invest NI said it was disappointed by the administration but added that it hoped the firm’s 50 staff would be able to find work. 

Invest NI is owed £275,000 by the company after giving a ‘buying time’ loan in April this year, secured by a form of mortgage known as a fixed and floating charge.

An earlier charge was registered to Bank of Ireland. 

Insolvency practitioner John Gordon of Napier & Sons Solicitors said a major creditor like Invest NI could have its debt repaid if there were enough fixed assets or book debts realised in the administration after the costs of the administrators were paid. However, banks usually have the first call on any security, and Invest NI will therefore rank after the bank. 

Mr Gordon said: “Usually charges which are less than two years old could have a problem, and may be considered a preference unless it can be demonstrated that the funds advanced are fresh consideration and the charge is not created over older money advances.

“Therefore a bank would be higher up the pecking order.

“But a fixed charge over property or land would be considered as having good security.”

  • Have you been affected by Bio-Kenetic Europe going bust? If so, please call the Belfast Telegraph business desk on 02890264443 during business hours

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