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Optimer Pharmaceuticals appoints board chairman as CEO

Staff writer |
Jersey City, N.J., USA - March 1, 2013, Jersey City, N.J., USA - Optimer Pharmaceuticals announced the appointment of its chairman, Henry McKinnell, as chief executive officer.

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Dr. McKinnell was appointed as Chairman of the Board in April 2012. He has served as a director since January 2011, and Optimer's lead independent director since March 2012. Dr. McKinnell served as Chairman of the Board of Pfizer, Inc., a pharmaceutical company, from May 2001 until his retirement in December 2006 and Chief Executive Officer from January 2001 to July 2006.

He served as President of Pfizer, Inc. from May 1999 to May 2001, and as President of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals Group from January 1997 to April 2001. Dr. McKinnell served as Chief Operating Officer of Pfizer from May 1999 to December 2000 and as Executive Vice President from 1992 to 1999.

Dr. McKinnell currently serves as lead independent director of Moody’s Corporation and is a director of Angiotech Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Dr. McKinnell also serves as Chairman of the Board of the Accordia Global Health Foundation. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Connecticut Science Center, and is a member of the Academic Alliance for AIDS Care and Prevention in Africa. He served as director of Pfizer and ExxonMobil Corporation until 2007 and John Wiley & Sons until 2005.

Dr. McKinnell holds a Bachelor’s Degree in business from the University of British Columbia, and M.B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business. Dr. McKinnell will replace Pedro Lichtinger, who has served as Optimer's President and Chief Executive Officer since May 2010, for the duration of the strategic review process.

Mr. Lichtinger agreed to step down as President, Chief Executive Officer and as a member of the Board of Directors, in connection with the announced change in management.

The Board of Directors also appointed Mark Auerbach, who has served as an Optimer Director since June 2005, as Lead Independent Director.

Mr. Auerbach, has served as a director since June 2005. Over the last 18 years, Mr. Auerbach had served as directors for several companies. He currently serves as a director in Ventrus Bioscience, Inc., a development stage specialty pharmaceutical company. From January 2006 through March 2010, Mr. Auerbach served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Neuro-Hitech, Inc., an early-stage pharmaceutical company. From June 2007 through August 2009, he served as a director for Collexis, a company which develops knowledge management and discovery software.

From July 2007 through February 2009, Mr. Auerbach also served as director for RxElite Holdings, Inc., a company which develops, manufactures and markets generic prescription drug products in specialty generic markets. From September 2003 through October 2006, Mr. Auerbach served as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors for Par Pharmaceutical Companies, Inc., principally a manufacturer and marketer of generic pharmaceuticals and the parent of Par Pharmaceutical, Inc. From 1993 to 2005, Mr. Auerbach served as Chief Financial Officer of Central Lewmar LLP, a national fine paper distributor.

Mr. Auerbach received a B.S. degree in accounting from Rider University.

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