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LEXINGTON, Mass. (
Amag Pharmaceuticals(AMAG - Get Report) shareholders did the right thing Friday by rejecting the proposed merger with
The next step should be just as clear: Amag's board needs to wake up, fire CEO Brian Pereira begin a formal auction process to find an appropriate buyer for the company's only valuable asset, the therapeutic iron compound Feraheme.
By killing the Allos deal, Amag shareholders are sending a very clear message to the board that they have no confidence in Pereira's leadership. Pereira had his chance to turn Amag around but he failed. It's time to put someone else in charge.
"We recognize the need to augment our leadership to align the skill sets of the management team with the needs of a multi-product specialty pharmaceutical company and have embarked on this effort," said Amag spokeswoman Amy Sullivan in response to my question about whether Pereira should resign.
Does "augmenting our leadership" mean sending Pereira packing? Sullivan didn't say, but let's hope so. Adding another layer of middle managers at Amag isn't going to solve the problem.
On a conference call following the vote, Pereira says he's heard from shareholders who believe in his strategy of adding new drugs to leverage the commercial infrastructure built to market Feraheme. Yet if that's true, why was Pereira's first choice to bolster Amag's portfolio -- the floppish cancer drug Folotyn -- so universally panned?
Sure, it would be great if Amag could license or acquire additional drugs to diversify beyond Feraheme, but Pereira isn't going to be the guy to accomplish that goal. He botched the Feraheme launch then delivered the
Allos deal dead on arrival. With Amag's credibility even more tarnished now, Pereira isn't likely to buy or license other new drugs.
Feraheme can be a moneymaking drug in the hands of a company with an existing commercial infrastructure. Amag's board needs to reach out to
Amgen(AMGN - Get Report),
Johnson & Johnson(JNJ - Get Report),
Takeda and others. Feraheme's value to a potential buyer is likely to increase if results are positive from an ongoing phase III study in iron deficiency anemia.
The road ahead for Amag's board is simple: Fire Pereira. Sell the company.
Shareholders have suffered enough. It's time to do something right by them.
--Written by Adam Feuerstein in Boston.
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