Merrimack CEO, CFO bow out, months after last clinical drug fizzles
Two months ago, Merrimack was forced to abandon its last drug in clinical trials, after an early-stage study showed that treatment with the drug, MM-310, was cumulatively toxic to patients, despite trial protocol amendments. On Monday, the ex-Sanofi executive the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company ushered in 2017 to revive its fortunes departed.
In 2015, Merrimack $MACK secured FDA approval for its pancreatic cancer drug — Onivyde, which had a disappointing debut. It was sold to Ipsen in 2017, in parallel to a restructuring, which culminated in a new CEO — Richard Peters — a slimmer workforce and three pipeline prospects: MM-141, MM-121 and MM-310. Each of these drugs has now been relegated to the scrap heap.
In April, after axing MM-310, the company said it was cutting jobs, but did not specify how many. It now has two preclinical drugs — MM-401 and MM-201 — left in its arsenal. Last November, the company slashed its workforce by 60%, weeks after disclosing MM-121, or seribantumab, added to docetaxel made no difference to patients with non-small cell lung cancer. This slash and burn was preceded by another flop in 2018. The company rid itself of MM-141 after it failed a Phase II combo study in pancreatic cancer.
On Monday, Merrimack said Peters was leaving the company. He will receive $743,746.21 — 12 months of his base salary — in severance, a pro-rated bonus of $294,891.15, and the company will continue paying a share of the premium for Peters’ health and dental insurance for a period of one year (unless he changes his coverage). Peters on June 25 agreed to consult with Merrimack at a rate of $30,989.43 per month to assist with its reporting obligations and the administration of remaining assets.
Apart from Peters, CFO Jean Franchi and board chairman Gary Crocker are also departing. Franchi gets $415,002.70 in severance, a pro-rated bonus of $77,544.30, a share paid for health and dental insurance, and consulting fees of $17,291.78 per month.
As of March 31, Merrimack had an accumulated deficit of $533.7 million; cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities of $58.5 million; and said it expects to continue to generate operating losses in the foreseeable future in a filing posted in May.