Hemispherx Biopharma’s board has fired chairman and CEO William A. Carter, M.D., following differences over the company’s direction and funding.
Dr. Carter also lost his positions as CSO and director following a majority vote of the board, which named as its new chairman William M. Mitchell M.D., Ph.D. Dr. Mitchell is chairman of the board’s Compensation Committee and its Corporate Governance and Nomination Committee.
“In recent months, the Company has been reexamining its fundamental priorities in terms of direction, corporate culture, and its ability to fund operations,” Hemispherx said yesterday in a regulatory filing disclosing Dr. Carter’s termination. The filing gave no specific reason for the decision to dismiss Dr. Carter, but suggested disagreement between him and the board.
“The departure of Dr. Carter will harmonize the management team with the directives and polices of the Board and reduce the burn rate both short and long term,” the filing stated. “The substantial savings it generates become a major part of our overall financial austerity program.”
Until now, the company said, the board has undertaken cost-cutting actions “including but not limited to a strict anti-nepotism policy, listing for sale underutilized assets, aggressively pursuing international sales of clinical grade materials, and implementing a strong financial austerity plan.”
“The Company is committed to a focused business plan oriented toward finding senior co-development partners with the capital and expertise needed to commercialize the many potential therapeutic aspects of our experimental drugs and our approved drug Alferon N,” Hemispherx added.
Alferon N injection® [Interferon alfa-n3 (human leukocyte derived)] is Hemispherx’s injectable formulation of Natural Alpha Interferon, approved by the FDA for intralesional treatment of refractory or recurring external condylomata acuminata in patients 18 years of age or older.
On February 9, Hemispherx said it was exploring possible research programs against the Zika virus for Alferon N and Alferon Low Dose Oral (LDO)®, as well as lead pipeline compound Ampligen®.
Dr. Carter is co-inventor of Ampligen, which Hemispherx has long sought to develop for a variety of chronic diseases and viral disorders. In 2009, and again in 2013, the FDA rejected applications by the company seeking to market Ampligen for chronic fatigue syndrome
Dr. Carter joined Hemispherx in 1978 and had served on the board since 1987. He had chaired the board from 1987–88 and again since 1992. He also served as CEO since 1993, and held the position of president from 1995–2006, and again since 2011.
Shares of publicly traded Hemispherx on NYSE MKT closed yesterday at 13 cents, down from 26 cents a year earlier.