Former Pharma Exec, Publicist Charged With Insider Trading

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A former executive and and a former communications director at a New Jersey-based biopharmaceutical company used nonpublic information to illegally profit on sales of the company's stock shares, according to a federal criminal complaint unsealed Thursday.

The complaint charges 47-year-old Usama Malik and 33-year-old Lauren Wood, both of Washington, D.C., each with securities fraud. Both were scheduled to make initial court appearances Thursday, Malik in Washington and Wood in Alexandria, Virginia.

Messages seeking comment were left Thursday with attorneys representing Malik and Wood.

According to the U.S. attorney's office, Malik gave Wood — who allegedly lived with him at the time — $65,000 she used to purchase company stock options in December 2019.

The complaint didn't identify the company, but a Securities and Exchange Commission complaint filed against the pair a year ago in New Jersey identified Malik as the former CFO of Immunomedics, based in Morris Plains. Immunomedics was bought by Gilead Sciences in late 2020.

In April 2020, Malik allegedly provided information to Wood, who had left the company by then, and others about pre-market clinical trials that had shown the company’s breast cancer drug to be effective, making it more likely the FDA would approve the drug.

The complaint alleges that hours after she received the information, Wood bought $64,000 in company stock and ultimately made about $213,000 in gross profits on it, according to the complaint. She also sold her options shares for $144,000 and gave $65,000 to Malik, according to the complaint.

Around the time of Wood's stock purchase, and before the company issued a news release announcing the result of the clinical trials, financial analysts had downgraded the company's stock, according to the complaint.

A spokesperson for Gilead Sciences declined comment Thursday. Messages were left seeking comment from attorneys representing Malik and Wood.