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TheStreet Open House

Your Vote Counts: Who Is the Worst Biotech CEO of 2011?

Exhibit B: Zakrzewski zips his lips in the face of mounting concerns about the patents (or lack thereof) covering Amarin's only asset, the lipid-lowering drug AMR101. Shareholders grow confused, panicky as U.S. patent reviewers reject Amarin's patent applications. Zakrzewski doesn't bother to explain, shareholders panic, Amarin's stock price tanks.

AMR101 has two wildly positive phase III clinical trials under its belt and approval next year could bring with it billions of dollars in worldwide sales. Yet Amarin's stock trades like AMR101 is garbage.

Heckuva job, Joseph.

Al Mann, Mannkind

A billionaire entrepreneur with an oversized ego decides to name a company after himself to develop an insulin inhaler that never works quite right and isn't needed by diabetics, anyway. Stubborn and arrogant, Mann shamelessly pumps his disastrous diabetes device, known as Afrezza, to audiences of gullible investors who believe stupidly in the motto "In Al We Trust."

FDA rejects Afrezza twice. MannKind shares tank. The company's balance sheet makes Greece look like super-creditor nation. Mann becomes a punch line but his shareholders feel like crying.

Mannkind? More like hubris masquerading as medical innovation.

Gregory Divis Jr., K-V Pharmaceutical

Divis wrote the CEO manual this year on how to screw up a new drug launch in every conceivable way. His was a performance of idiocy on a grand scale that may never be matched. Even Dendreon's Gold looks like a drug-marketing superstar next to Divis.

The drug launch Divis botched was Makena, an injectable form of the hormone progesterone used to reduce the risk of premature birth. For years, doctors have been able to prescribe the same drug made by compounding pharmacies, costing just $10 to $20 per injection. K-V priced Makena at $1,500 per injection.

K-V also claimed market exclusivity for Makena because the drug was granted orphan status by FDA, so the company's lawyers threatened to sue any compounding pharmacy that dared continue to manufacture the cheaper version.

Divis' aggressive tactics backfired big time. Doctors got mad, worried that their patients would no longer be able to afford the medicine they needed. The March of Dimes accused K-V of profiteering at the expense of at-risk pregnant women. The FDA questioned the company's tactics. Politicians blasted K-V and called for investigations into the company's marketing practices.

Needless to say, the Makena launched bombed. K-V was forced to backtrack and cut the drug's price, but even that conciliatory gesture was met with skepticism and scorn.

And now to the ballots.


Who is the worst biotech CEO of 2011?

Mitch Gold, Dendreon
John Martin, Gilead Sciences
Joseph Zakrzewksi, Amarin
Al Mann, Mannkind
Gregory Divis Jr., K-V Pharmaceutical

-- Written by Adam Feuerstein in Boston



>To contact the writer of this article, click here: Adam Feuerstein.

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Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.
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