A little drugmaker is undergoing a big shake up. Optimer Pharmaceuticals has removed Michael Chang as chairman for failing to "identify and effectively manage" compliance, record keeping and unspecified conflict of interest issues in connection with a grant of 1.5 million shares in a biotech affiliate, which were potentially for the benefit of an unnamed third party, according to astatement.
The affiliate, which is based in Taiwan, is called Optimer Biotechnology and the drugmaker owns a 43 percent stake. Optimer Biotechnology is headed by Youe-Kong Shue, who was also an Optimer vice president until being fired, along with chief financial officer John Punty, for failing to follow proper procedures when they became aware of issues related to the shares issued to Chang.
Chang, who was the Optimer representative on the Optimer Biotechnology board, has also been asked to resign from the Optimer board and Hank McKinnell, the former Pfizer ceo, has been named chairman. McKinnell was named the lead independent director on the Optimer board at the end of February.
Further details were not disclosed, but Optimer has reported the episode to the "relevant" US authorities and is cooperating with those authorities in reviewing the matter, according to the statement. We have contacted the drugmaker, which is based in San Diego and sells the Dificid antibiotic, and will update you accordingly.
Meanwhile, McKinnell offered this remark: "Clearly, we are disappointed that we had to take these actions. However, the board believes they reflect the importance to the company of good corporate governance practices and that they are in the best interests of the company and its stakeholders. Importantly, the issues surrounding the board's decision relate solely to the company's relationship" Optimer Biotechnology, the unit that was headed by Shue and is developing a breast cancer drug.