Optimer ousts chairman, top execs over a grant of shares in affiliate

Hank McKinnell has a new biopharma mess to sort out. The former Pfizer CEO has been named chairman of Optimer Pharmaceuticals ($OPTR) after the drug developer booted its chairman and two top executives involved in an intrigue involving a closely affiliated company and 1.5 million shares of stock.

Michael Chang was summarily removed as chairman and asked to resign from the board while CFO John Prunty and Vice President Youe-Kong Shue got the ax. McKinnell, added as the lead independent director just last January, was appointed to replace Chang. Optimer's shares slid more than 5% in the wake of the removals.

The brouhaha on the board was sparked by transactions at Optimer Biotechnology, a Taiwanese company which is 43% owned by the San Diego-based Optimer. Chang was stripped of the title due to "his actions in his capacity as Optimer's representative on the board of directors of OBI as well as his failure to identify and effectively manage compliance, record keeping and conflict of interest issues in connection with OBI's grant to Dr. Chang, potentially for the benefit of a third party, of 1.5 million shares of OBI."

Optimer went on to note that it had notified the "appropriate" federal authorities of the grant. The company also reported $16.45 million in first quarter revenue as Dificid delivered increasing income. Optimer has been gradually building sales for the C.difficile treatment as it lays the groundwork for expanding its approval to include its use as a preventive therapy.

- read the press release
- here's the AP story
- get the report from Bloomberg