And the Winner for Worst Biotech CEO Is….

And the Winner for Worst Biotech CEO Is….

December 9th, 2011 // 1:59 pm @

If you guessed that Mitch Gold, who heads Dendreon, you would be right. He won this sad distinction in the annual reader poll conducted by The Street, where he nabbed 37 percent of the 1,800 votes for stunning investors – and just about everybody else – by scrapping his sales forecast for the year after disclosing that sales of the Provenge prostate cancer vaccine were slower than planned.

Why? A failure to properly educate doctors well in advance of the launch and an insufficient promotional campaign (see here). This led to calls to shake up the board amid an outcry that Dendreon management had sold big chunks of stock just weeks before. This included Gold, who sold about $1 million worth of shares. Ironically, Gold was voted best biotech ceo last year by The Street.

“Gold takes home the Nance Trophy named in recognition of David Nance, the former ceo of now bankrupt and defunct Introgen Therapeutics. Few ceo’s in biotech did more to hone the fine craft of investor bamboozlement and outright incompetence as Introgen’s Nance,” write Adam Feuerstein in TheStreet. “Gold joins a pantheon of chief executive screw-ups: Elan’s Kelly Martin (read here), Genzyme’s Henri Termeer (look here) and Dan Bradbury of Amylin Pharmaceuticals.”

The inglorious runner up this year is Greg Divis Jr., who heads KV Pharmaceutical, which caused a huge controversy. The drugmaker, you may recall, earlier this year won FDA approval under the Orphan Drug Act for Makena, a form of progesterone that, for many years, was offered by compounding pharmacies. But KV was battered by pricing gouging charges for asking $1,500, compared with $10 to $20 a week for existing compounded versions.

The drugmaker subsequently lowered the price, but not before engendering a lot of ill will. The March of Dimes, for instance, ended its relationship (see this). The FDA, however, has since agreed to investigate the source various compounded versions that apparently raised concerns about the quality of the active pharmaceutical ingredients and compounded products. KV commissioned research into the compounded meds and turned that info over to the FDA.


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