Mer­ri­mack CEO, CFO bow out, months af­ter last clin­i­cal drug fiz­zles

Richard Pe­ters Mer­ri­mack

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.

Jean Franchi LinkedIn

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.

Gary Crock­er Crock­er Ven­tures

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.

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It’s always a bittersweet moment saying goodbye, but as Josh Sullivan goes off to new adventures we are grateful for the way he’s built up the Endpoints Manufacturing section — which the rest of the team will now carry forward. If you’re not already, this may be a good time to sign up for your weekly dose of drug manufacturing news. Thank you for reading and wish you a restful weekend.

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