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GOP Congressman Loses Millions After Biotech Stock Plummets

Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), lost $22 million ($16.7 million) in a matter of hours after Australian pharma stock Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd. fell 92 percent, reports Bloomberg.

The New York congressman is currently the biggest shareholder in the Aussie biotechnology company, owning 17 percent of all shares. Although the share price peaked in January of this year at $1.77, it has now plunged to a mere 5 Australian cents, per Bloomberg.

This fall comes immediately after the drug maker announced that a trial of an experimental multiple sclerosis treatment presented no effect in helping patients.

“For those that invested in Innate including me, we all were sophisticated investors who were aware of the inherent risk,” Rep. Collins wrote in an emailed statement, according to Bloomberg.

Innate Immunotherapeutics Ltd. is a medical biotechnology company based in Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand. Despite its failure with the most recent multiple sclerosis treatment trial, it has been at the forefront of health technology with other treatments.

It designed and manufactured a ground-breaking immunomodulator microparticle technology, according to information on its website. With this technology, doctors can “induce reactions from the human immune system to assist in fighting off certain cancer and infections, or help control and stop the damage caused by autoimmune disease.”

Collins may already own 17 percent of the company, but his reach extends far beyond that. He sits on Innate’s board of directors, and his children each hold a substantial stake in the company.

Additionally, a few of his colleagues bought shares in early 2017, around the time the stock had peaked, reports Bloomberg. Republican Representatives Mike Conaway (Texas), Doug Lamborn (Colorado), Billy Long (Missouri) and Markwayne Mullin (Oklahoma) all purchased shares.

According to filings obtained by Bloomberg, Conaway acquired less than $15,000 worth of Innate, Lamborn and Long between $15,001 and $50,000, and Mullin between $100,001 and $250,000. The filings show that none of the men had sold off their shares before the steep drop in value.

Collins came under scrutiny earlier as he sits on a House committee overseeing health-care matters. A spokesman for Collins said, in response to a probe by The Office of Congressional Ethics last month, that the Republican representative had followed every rule and regulation vis à vis his personal finances.

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