Your Vote Counts: Who Is the Worst Biotech CEO of 2012?
BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- The nominees for Worst Biotech CEO of 2012 are...
Each of these executives has rightfully earned a share of this (dis)honor but only one can claim this year's Nance Trophy -- and the biotech investor scorn and ridicule that comes with it.
The Nance Trophy honors David Nance, the former CEO of now bankrupt and defunct Introgen Therapeutics. Few CEOs in biotech did more to hone the fine craft of investor bamboozlement and outright incompetence as Introgen's Nance.
Past winners (or should I say losers?) of the Worst Biotech CEO of the Year Award are Elan's (ELN) Kelly Martin (2008), Genzyme's Henri Termeer (2009), Dan Bradbury of Amylin Pharmaceuticals (2010) and Dendreon's (DNDN) Mitch Gold (2011.)
As in previous years, readers will cast the deciding votes. Read the following nominating summaries and make your selection in the interactive poll below. Feel free, also, to post comments at the bottom of the story if you feel I left off a CEO deserving of shame.
In a week or so, I'll tally the votes and award the trophy.
Steven King, Peregrine Pharmaceuticals:
Clinical trial failure happens all the time in biotech and is not enough to land a chief executive a "worst" nomination. Peregrine's King, however, isn't just an innocent victim of bad luck. Under his leadership and in public, Peregrine shamelessly hyped and promoted bavituximab in the months leading up to the September lung cancer data results, promising investors that "exceptional" data was sparking interest from potential partners. Privately, however, King directed the company to sell millions of dollars in company stock through opaque, backdoor and highly dilutive financing deals.
For a few days in September, King looked like a genius as investors considered the possibility Peregrine had a blockbuster lung cancer drug on its hands. Bavituximab appeared to double survival in second-line lung cancer patients. The unprecedented data from a mid-stage study seemed entirely implausible but there they were, presented during a plenary session at a well-respected oncology research conference.
Peregrine shares traded for pennies, literally, in July. On Sept. 21, with investors buzzing over bavituximab, the stock hit $5.50 per share.
And then, it all blew up. On Sept. 24, Peregrine threw out the bavituximab lung cancer results due to "major discrepancies" in the conduct of the study. The doubling of survival attributed to bavituximab turned out to be a hoax. Peregrine blamed an independent contractor for messing up the conduct of the study, but of course, investors rightly nailed Peregrine for the fiasco. The value of Peregrine's shares cratered to pennies. The company's credibility suffered even more.