22nd Century says short seller article 'grossly misleading'
22nd Century Group (XXII) commented on a "grossly misleading" article published yesterday by an anonymous self-professed short seller of the company's stock. Publishing under the pen name "Fuzzy Panda," 22nd Century said "the author - who will not even identify who he is - continued his baseless smear campaign against the company in an effort to depress the share price of 22nd Century stock and to make a personal profit by duping shareholders into selling their shares. Although 22nd Century does not normally respond to 'short and distort' articles or to 'hit pieces,' the company believes the grossly misleading mischaracterizations and wrongful innuendo contained in the subject article warranted a company response. Accordingly, 22nd Century states the following facts: The short seller incorrectly suggests that all 22nd Century patents protecting the gene known as QPT have expired. The true facts as stated in the Company's most recent Annual Report on SEC Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2018, are that only a portion of the Company's QPT patents have expired. The short seller falsely states that Big Tobacco companies can supposedly create a VLNC tobacco plant with alleged 'low nicotine patents' and that Big Tobacco companies can supposedly meet the upcoming low nicotine rule being created by the U.S. FDA. However, Big Tobacco companies have publicly admitted that (i) it will take them between 12 to 20 years to potentially develop a VLNC tobacco plant, (ii) 22nd Century controls the intellectual property necessary to develop VLNC tobacco plants, and (iii) the Big Tobacco companies are opposing the FDA's planned nicotine reduction rule because the Big Tobacco companies claim it is not feasible for them to comply. The 'short and distort' article also incorrectly states that British American Tobacco (BTI) supposedly terminated its prior research agreement with 22nd Century because of the expiration of a portion of the QPT gene patents that are supposedly essential for the Company's Vector 21-41 VLNC tobacco. The true facts are that the QPT gene and the Company's Vector 21-41 VLNC tobacco were never part of the BAT research agreement.... In summary, the true facts are that (i) 22nd Century remains the ONLY source in the world for VLNC tobacco plants that meet the FDA's planned nicotine reduction rule; (ii) a vibrant and growing IP portfolio protects 22nd Century's technology and proprietary VLNC tobacco; (iii) 22nd Century has developed non-GMO flue cured and burley VLNC tobacco plants when Big Tobacco companies have failed to do so." XXII BTI