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Trimeris' CEO and CFO quit

US-based Trimeris' CEO E Lawrence Hill Jr and CFO Daniel Ratto are to quit their posts, according to a company statement.

US-based Trimeris' CEO E Lawrence Hill Jr and CFO Daniel Ratto are to quit their posts, according to a company statement.

Andrew Graham, the company's director of finance, said that the posts of both men were short-term in nature anyway. They were hired back in March 2007 for a specific role, which has ended, said Graham.

The short-term assigned task, according to Ratto, was to develop the new HIV drug, TRI-1144, which they have completed. The posts were due to terminate at the end of 2008, but they will leave from the beginning of 2008, according to SEC documents.

Hill and Ratto replaced Trimeris' co-founder Dani Bolognesi and CFO Robert Bonczek when they were asked to retire in March 2007. Hill and Ratto are with US-based consulting firm Hickey and Hill, which specialises in helping companies in difficulties. Both men were paid hourly:  USD 450 and USD 380, respectively.

Graham was reported as saying that the board was currently confident they had the management team in place to execute the company's strategy, but conceded that all options were open and it was up to the board as to what they wanted to do.

HealthCor Management and Bridger Management have bought millions of shares, driving up the price of Trimeris' stock. HealthCor, which is now the company's largest shareholder, with a stake of nearly 18 per cent, has urged the company to halt development of the new drug and put itself up for sale. No decision has yet been made by Trimeris executives.

Trimeris shares closed at USD 7.55 on 11 October 2007, compared with a low of USD 5.79 per share in August 2007.

Trimeris' partners with Swiss-headquartered Roche with the HIV fusion inhibitor drug, Fuzeon (enfuvirtide), which was approved for use in 2003, however due to the expense of the drug (USD 20,000 per annum) and difficulties in the mode of use (injection site reactions), sales have not met analyst expectations.

PMLive reported this week that both companies withdrew an application to sell a different needle-free device, B2000, for injecting Fuzeon after the FDA asked for additional data.

Punk Ziegel analysts say that Trimeris should not develop TRI-1144, as the drug still requires subcutaneous injection, never a favourite with patients, despite only needing to be injected once daily, compared with twice daily for Fuzeon. Trimeris says that TRI-1144 appears to be more potent than Fuzeon and added that there were less injection site reactions.

30th September 2008

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