Aegerion dumps CEO who got it into FDA trouble for talking too freely

Former Aegerion CEO Marc Beer

Aegerion Pharmaceuticals ($AEGR) CEO Marc Beer may be a fast talker but he has been a bit of a slow walker when it comes to giving up his position as CEO. The executive, who got the company into trouble with the feds for speaking too freely on TV about the upside of his company's lead drug, has acquiesced to investor demands and moved on.

The company announced today that Beer, as well as COO Craig Fraser, have resigned effective immediately and will replaced by board member Sandford Drexel Smith until a replacement for Beer is found.

The Cambridge, MA-based company in late 2013 got nailed by the FDA with a warning letter for exaggerating the benefits of its cholesterol-lowering drug Juxtapid during a television appearance on CNBC's "Fast Money" program. Then things got worse. The company got a subpoena from the Department of Justice seeking info about marketing the company had done.

The FDA's approval of Juxtapid was based on data showing that the pill lowers cholesterol levels in patients with a rare genetic disease, familial homozygous hypercholesterolemia. But the study didn't prove the drug actually lowered the risk of heart attack or death. Among the comments the FDA pointed to by Beer was this: "These patients are going to die of a cardiac event, either a stroke or a heart attack, if we don't have them on therapy."

The company last year said it had patched things up with the FDA by doing a number of corrective actions that included an advertisement on CNBC to deal with the misinformation. But some investors were not happy that those corrective actions had not included getting rid of Beer.

Earlier this year, Sarissa Capital, run by former Carl Icahn associate Alex Denner, disclosed a 5.8% stake in Aegerion and began agitating for changes at Aegerion. The investment firm dropped its threat of a proxy fight after being granted a board seat and a promise of working with the company to improve its value.

That however, will be tough. The company today reported "preliminary" second quarter 2015 total net product sales that range between just $63 million and $64 million and cash on hand of approximately $82 million. It has gotten very little traction in the market for its product, which now will face competitors from some of the biggest players in pharma. On Friday, the FDA approved Praluent from Sanofi ($SNY) and Regeneron ($REGN) a drug that targets the same patients as Juxtapid.

- here's the release

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