Sarepta's flash firing tightens the focus on a heavily scrutinized company

Former Sarepta Therapeutics Chief Scientific Officer Arthur Krieg

Sarepta Therapeutics' ($SRPT) terse dismissal of its top scientist on Thursday has led to a swirl of rumors and anonymous-sourced reports of boardroom clashes, incompatible personalities and a possible coup attempt, bringing to light worrisome details on a company already under the microscope.

What's on the record is this: After about 6 months on the job, Chief Scientific Officer Arthur Krieg was fired on Thursday. What unnamed people in and around the company have told reporters goes much deeper.

Citing two sources, TheStreet's Adam Feuerstein reported that Krieg was initially brought aboard to accelerate the development of some of Sarepta's preclinical candidates, and the biotech cut him loose when those plans failed to come to fruition. Xconomy's unnamed source painted a similar picture, and all parties are driving home one point: Krieg was not involved in the ongoing development of eteplirsen, the Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) treatment to which the biotech's fate is tied.

But an in-depth Wall Street Journal report points to a strained managerial situation at the Massachusetts drug developer that could be cause for alarm. WSJ's sources said Krieg was let go after spelling out his concerns with CEO Chris Garabedian to the company's board. Shortly thereafter, Krieg was called to Garabedian's office, informed of his termination and escorted out by security, the newspaper reports.

Sarepta CEO Chris Garabedian

Krieg's ouster comes on the heels of two vice president-level departures at Sarepta over the past year, and Peter Linsley, one of his predecessors at the CSO position, told WSJ that the biotech "wasn't a very healthy culture in a lot of ways."

The added scrutiny comes at a particularly pivotal time for Sarepta, which is wading through regulatory vagary and investor skepticism as it works to get its DMD treatment on the market.

Earlier this month, the biotech unveiled three-year results showing eteplirsen's ability to help boys with the muscle-destroying disease perform well on a 6-minute walk test, touting the data as a positive affirmation of its efficacy. Investors were less convinced, sending Sarepta's shares down more than 30% and feeding doubts about the company's ability to secure the early FDA approval it believes the drug deserves.

- read TheStreet's story
- here's Xconomy's take
- and the WSJ piece (sub. req.)

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