Pharmas Market with Mike Huckman

Sequenom Board To CEO: "You're Fired"


It's the equivalent of slipping a press release with negative news under the door at the close of business on a Friday.

But after the closing bell on Yom Kippur, when many people including me were trying to give up food and tweeting for a day, Sequenom tossed a grenade.

But the real headline doesn't appear in the press release until the fourth paragraph. The board fired the CEO and head of R & D plus three other staffers. The CFO and another exec quit.

The top of the release talks about how an internal investigation revealed Sequenom messed up big time in disclosing clinical trial data from its experimental diagnostic test for Down syndrome. There are no details. And then it went on to list bullet points about steps the company's taking to prevent it from happening again before finally disclosing the C-suite bloodbath.

What's more, at a time when some of us were about to break the Yom Kippur fast, Sequenom scheduled a conference call at 5 p.m. ET yesterday. Needless to say, I didn't listen to it. I felt guilty enough that I had tweeted the newsand violated my self-imposed high holiday electronic disconnection.

This morning Leerink Swann, whose specialty is healthcare stocks, stopped coverage of SQNM because the future of the company looks so uncertain. And Lazard Capital Markets told clients in a research note, "What concerns us: Basically everything." Ouch.

It seems to me that a tiny biopharma company that is in the midst of a huge crisis of confidence and credibility could do better than to try to sneak out a bombshell of a press release at the end of the quietest day of the year for observant Jews. It doesn't help.

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