Optimer Shares Fall After Chang is Stripped of Chairman Post

Optimer Pharmaceuticals Inc. plunged the most in almost a month after the maker of the antibiotic Dificid stripped Michael Chang of his chairmanship and fired the chief financial officer and a vice president.

Optimer declined 4 percent to $13.72 at the close in New York. Chang also has been asked to resign as a director, San Diego-based Optimer said today in a statement. Hank McKinnell, a former chief executive officer of Pfizer Inc., the world’s largest drugmaker, was appointed chairman.

Chang was removed from the chairmanship because he failed “to identify and effectively manage compliance, record keeping and conflict of interest issues in connection” to a grant of 1.5 million shares he received from a Taiwanese affiliate, Optimer said. CFO John Prunty and Youe-Kong Shue, a vice president, were let go because they failed to follow the proper procedures after finding out about the grant, Optimer said.

“Clearly, we are disappointed that we had to take these actions,” McKinnell said in the statement. He said the reason for the firings extended no further than Optimer’s relationship with its Taiwan affiliate.

Jason Spark, a spokesman for Optimer, didn’t provide more details on the changes or respond to a request for an interview with Chang.

Optimer said it has told U.S. authorities about the matter and is cooperating with them on a review.

Optimer makes Dificid, an antibiotic used to treat diarrhea caused by the Clostridium difficile bacteria. The company had $145 million in 2011 revenue, and today said sales for the first quarter were about $16.5 million.

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