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Former Pfizer CEO Henry McKinnell appointed CEO of Optimer

Replaces Pedro Lichtinger who is latest to leave amid compliance investigations

Henry McKinnell, OptimerOptimer Pharmaceuticals has appointed the company's chairman and former CEO of Pfizer Dr Henry 'Hank' McKinnell to CEO.

Dr McKinnell (pictured right) will replace Pedro Lichtinger, who has been president and CEO of US biopharma Optimer since May 2010.

Lichtinger steps down as the company continues to be subject to investigations by US authorities into compliance issues.

The company's independent directors recommended a series of management changes as a result of these investigations, with previous casualties including former company chairman Michael Chang – who was replaced by Dr McKinnell in April 2012 – as well as chief financial officer John Prunty and company executive Youe-Kong Shue.

Also departing alongside Lichtinger in the latest round of changes is general counsel and chief compliance officer Kurt Hartman, who will be replaced by Meredith Schaum.

Dr McKinnell, who first joined Optimer in 2011 as a director, has a strong pedigree in pharma, serving as CEO and chair of Pfizer from 2001 to 2006.

He also currently holds the positions chairman of the board of credit ratings company Moody's Corporation and chairman of the board of the Accordia Global Health Foundation. 

Commenting on his appointment as Optimer's CEO, Dr McKinnell acknowledged the company's current compliance issues as well as the 2011 launch of the company's lead product antibiotic Dificid-Dificlir (fidaxomicin).

He said: “While the board is conducting a comprehensive review of strategic alternatives to maximise shareholder value, I look forward to working with the management team to continue to increase the utilisation of Dificid.”

28th February 2013

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