Sequenom – A Black Eye for Biotech

In science, the worst possible thing you can do is manipulate the data.  For any reason.  The implications are far reaching, particularly if it involves patients.  And no board of directors ever wants to find themselves dealing with this issue.

That’s exactly where the board of directors of Sequenom found themselves.  As the result of an independent investigation led by a special committee of independent directors Sequenom has announced the dismissal of their CEO, Senior Vice President of R&D, three other employees and obtained the resignation of another officer.  The CFO also resigned.  The reason – mishandling of test data and results.  Somewhere along the line there was a complete breakdown of internal controls that led to unsubstantiated claims, inconsistencies and errors in the data for a prenatal test of Down Syndrome.

Originally disclosed in an 8k filing on April 29th. investigators interviewed 40 witnesses and reviewed over 300,000 documents and emails during the course of the investigation according to the 8k filed on September 28th.

Rarely do directors get any credit for doing the right thing.  This case is different.  The directors dealt swiftly and fairly with the results of the investigation and now can move on to repairing the reputation of the company.

 

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About Mike

Mike has been an executive in the biotechnology industry for the past 20 years. Mike is a graduate of University of California, Santa Barbara, earning Bachelors degrees in Business Economics and Geography. Mike also earned his MBA in Finance from California State University, Fresno. Mike is married to the mother of his 3 children and currently lives outside of Boulder, CO. In his spare time Mike enjoys hiking, fishing, skiing, reading and coaching basketball.
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2 Responses to Sequenom – A Black Eye for Biotech

  1. JD says:

    I give credit to Sequenom’s board of directors for taking swift action. They also emphasize the science behind the technology is sound and they are going forward with redoing the tests so they should hopefully see a favorable outcome within the next several months. Given the benefits of this technology I wish them the best.

  2. roadysf says:

    Credit goes to organizations that set and maintain appropriate standards. It can be hard – the lure of success after lots of work can easily turn well principled folks into opportunists who can rationalize the choices that they make by all the hard work that got them there.

    As someone who was involved in an investigation into scientific misconduct, it’s one of those times when you put aside who you like and who you respect and focus on pure actions: what was done, what was reported, and was anything altered or fudged.

    For better or worse, when it comes to health care transparency in reporting data (“Just the facts”) is the cornerstone of the industry. Sequenom is to be congratulated on doing the right thing.

    J. Mike Smith

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