U.S. Markets open in 6 hrs 54 mins

Optimer appoints Sirota as COO

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) -- Optimer Pharmaceuticals said Monday that it has named Eric Sirota as its chief operating officer.

The Jersey City, N.J., company said that Sirota has experience in building pharmaceutical brands and that his appointment fills a significant need at the company. Hank McKinnell, chairman and CEO of Optimer, said the appointment allows him to focus on the strategic review process.

The drug developer announced in February that it is reviewing at a broad range of strategic alternatives to maximize shareholder value. At that time, the company named former Pfizer CEO McKinnell, who was serving as Optimer's chairman, to serve as CEO for the duration of the review.

Optimer, which makes antibiotics, has had a number of leadership changes recently following some compliance and conflict-of-interest issues with its previous leadership.

Sirota, 51, has been working as a consultant to the company since March, providing product marketing and other business advice to Optimer's board.

He has also previously worked as president of commercial services of inVentiv Health Inc., a provider of clinical, commercial and consulting services to the health care industry. His past experience also includes more than 20 years at Pfizer Inc., working most recently as vice president of its U.S. marketing, commercial strategy and innovation and regional sales.

Optimer's shares surged more than 14 percent to close at $14.66 Monday and slipped 1 percent to $14.50 in after-hours trading.