Just this week, Biogen Idec (BIIB:Nasdaq - news - research) lost its top lawyer and general counsel, Thomas Bucknum. And it seems like the timing could have been better.
The news, after all, comes as the Cambridge, Mass., biotech firm prepares to defend itself against a string of shareholder lawsuits claiming the company violated securities laws by allegedly failing to disclose immune system risks linked to the Tysabri drug it sold along with Ireland's Elan (ELN:NYSE ADR - news - research).
It appears that Bucknum has his own issues to work through. The executive, who had worked at Biogen for nine years, resigned this week after reports emerged that he just happened to cash in a huge chunk of stock right as the company was learning of Tysabri's problems -- and before the company told the public, causing its stock to crater. The SEC is looking into the matter, according to media reports.
For its part, Biogen said last month that Bucknum didn't know about the problems with Tysabri when he sold the shares. On Thursday, a spokesman said Biogen wouldn't comment beyond its terse previous public disclosure on Bucknum's departure.
In any case, Bucknum made $1.9 million in a Feb. 18 sale of stock underlying exercised options, according to filings. That sale came the same day Biogen was learning that the multiple sclerosis drug was being linked to some patient illnesses. Biogen pulled Tysabri Feb. 28 after consulting with regulators over the patient problems.
The bulk of Bucknum's options would have been worthless at the stock's lower price, Dow Jones reported.
We assume Bucknum is enjoying more time with his family, but it's hard to know for sure. A call to his residence in Boston wasn't returned.