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TheStreet Open House

Vote for the Worst Biotech CEO of 2010

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- The winner of the 2010 Worst Biotech CEO of the Year Award goes to ... you decide.

In a new and democratic twist this year, readers of TheStreet's biotech coverage will vote on which chief executive deserves this most ignominious award.



To simplify the voting and help reach a consensus, I've nominated four CEOs who, for various reasons you'll read below, deserve to hold aloft the Nance Trophy amid an angry, insult-throwing crowd of biotech investors. The four Worst Biotech CEO nominees for 2010 are:

Jack Lief of Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA), Brian Pereira, Amag Pharmaceuticals (AMAG), Steve Engle of Xoma (XOMA) and Dan Bradbury, Amylin Pharmaceuticals (AMLN).

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 in 2008 and Genzyme's (GENZ) Henri Termeer in 2009.

For the 2010 crowning, I'd like readers to 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.

Jack Lief, Arena Pharmaceuticals:

For months, Arena and U.S. drug regulators engaged in a debate over preclinical data showing high doses of the company's weight-loss drug lorcaserin caused various tumors in male and female rats. Arena insisted that the "rat cancer" data had no relevance to lorcaserin's use in humans. The FDA disagreed and eventually rejected lorcaserin in large part because of concerns about the unresolved "rat cancer" issue.

Investors were kept entirely in the dark about this important issue, only learning about it after the FDA posted a lorcaserin clinical review two days before its advisory panel meeting in September.

Arena, under Lief's direction, decided that the rat cancer data weren't material and therefore didn't need to be disclosed publicly. The thrashing of Arena's stock price when investors learned about the animal cancer issue suggests otherwise. Arena's stock is down 60% this year -- down 80% from the stock's high in September just before the "rat cancer" issue was eventually disclosed.

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