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Promising Biotech Fires CEO Over Test Data

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Aired 9/29/09

A promising-but-troubled San Diego biotech company has forced out four executives, including its CEO. This follows news that employees of Sequenom mishandled trial results for its Down syndrome test.

— A promising-but-troubled San Diego biotech company has forced out four executives, including its CEO. This follows news that employees of Sequenom mishandled trial results for its Down syndrome test.

Sequenom's prenatal blood test for Down syndrome appeared to be a painless, accurate and non-invasive alternative to amniocentesis, and the company had become a darling of investors. But news broke in April that clinical trial data on the blood test were unreliable due to employee mishandling. That caused the company's stock to plunge by 75 percent.

Yesterday, Sequenom announced that an independent investigation found the trial data included errors and inconsistencies. As a result, the Sequenom board fired CEO Harry Stylli, along with the company's chief development officer. Two other executives resigned. A statement by Sequenom says the company continues to believe in the science underlying its technology, and it will continue developing its Down syndrome test.

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