BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Ready for some fun? Here are the nominees for Worst Biotech CEO of 2014:
Marc Beer of Aegerion Pharmaceuticals (AEGR) , John Johnson of Dendreon (DNDN) , co-nominees Steve Kriegsman of CytRx (CYTR) and Mark Ahn of Galena Biopharma (GALE) , Joe Podolski of Repros Theraeutics (RPRX) , Linda Powers of Northwest Biotherapeutics (NWBO) , and last but not least, Martin Shkreli of Retrophin (RTRX) .
These seven nominees are competing for the dishonor of holding the Nance Trophy, named after 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. Last year's winner (loser) was Vical's (VICL) Vijay Samant.
Please read the nominating summaries and vote for your favorite -- or least favorite -- candidate in the interactive poll at the end of the story. I'll tally your votes and award the trophy at the end of the week.
Marc Beer, Aegerion Pharmaceuticals
Marc Beer is not a Worst Biotech CEO nominee for allegedly snorting cocaine, drinking booze and having sex with the wife of his investment banker (while the investment banker watched, allegedly, of course.) Dude, we've all been there. You get a pass on that.
Beer is on this list because he royally screwed up Aegerion, a once-promising orphan drug company now teetering on irrelevancy and trading at two-year lows. Among Beer's unpardonable transgressions: Over-estimating the size of the commercial market for the company's cholesterol-lowering drug Juxtapid; botching Juxtapid's reimbursement and launch in Europe; ensnaring the company in an anti-corruption investigation in Brazil; running afoul of the FDA and the Department of Justice for overly promotional comments about Juxtapid made during appearances on CNBC and failing to recognize the competitive threat to Juxtapid from a new, emerging class of emerging cholesterol-lowering drugs under development by Amgen (AMGN) , Regeneron Pharma (REGN) and others.
And when belatedly acknowledging this competitive threat to Juxtapid, Beer did nothing to diversify the company's business until it was too late.
Other than that, Beer's done a fantastic job running Aegerion, and he has the board's full support, which should make shareholders feel super great.
John Johnson, Dendreon
Steve Kriegsman, CytRx and Mark Ahn, Galena Biopharma
These two are the Emperor Palpatine (Sith Lord) and Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader) of biotech.
Under Mark Ahn's direction, Galena hired a group of stock touts to write and publish misleading articles across the Internet under false, assumed names. After the promotional campaign contributed to a tripling of Galena's stock price, Ahn and other insiders sold millions of dollars in company stock.
One of those profiting insiders was Steve Kriegsman, a Galena director. The scheme worked so well at Galena that Kriegsman, as CEO of CytRx, hired the same group of stock touts to promote his own company.
Their plans worked great until a pesky member of the media (ahem) started poking around. The stock prices of Galena and CytRx tanked and the friendly folks at the Securities and Exchange Commission launched an investigation into Galena (still ongoing.) Ahn was fired. Kriegsman was promoted to Chairman and CEO of CytRx. Unbelievable, except if you remember that CytRx's board is packed with Kriegsman cronies who awarded themselves sweetly priced options last December.
Joe Podolski, Repros Therapeutics
Is there a sane investor left who believes anything spouting from the mouth of Repros CEO Joe Podolski about the company's testosterone pill Androxal? In 2013, Wall Street laughed collectively at Podolski for blaming gay, sex-crazed Cubans for Androxal's development problems.
This year, the joke was no longer funny. Androxal was supposed to be filed with the FDA in the middle of 2014, then Podoloski said the second half of 2014, then he changed his mind and promised a filing by the end of 2014. Well, the end of the year is fast approaching and everyone is still waiting. Meantime, Podolski continues to make excuses, blaming the FDA for changing its mind about the Androxal data requirements necessary for approval. What little credibility Podolski had going into 2014 is now gone. In its place is the creeping realization that an incompetent executive can screw up what should have been a relatively easy drug development program.
Linda Powers, Northwest Biotherapeutics
In 2014, Linda Powers raised some money. She issued stacks of overly promotional press releases WITH HEADLINES WRITTEN IN ALL CAPS TO MAKE SURE WE NOTICED. She tortured a clinical trial in ways even Dick Cheney would find objectionable. She raised some more money. She buried an interim efficacy analysis from the same clinical trial so deep in a salt mine it will never see the light of day. She raised even more money. She spent $2 million to build an exhibition booth at a cancer conference. She got into a pissing match with one of the most prestigious cancer hospitals in the U.S. and lost.
She also had real trouble using Google Translate, raised money AGAIN! and then made Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) look like a political hack.
Last but certainly not least, she landed on this list.
Martin Shkreli, Retrophin
You've read the nominations, now it's your turn to choose the Best Biotech CEO of 2014. Please vote in the poll below: