Struggling OvaScience Offers CFO Cash to Stay on Board

Struggling OvaScience Offers CFO Cash to Stay on Board January 16, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

WALTHAM, Mass. – OvaScience , the embattled fertility-focused biotech, does not want to lose another top-flight executive. The company reportedly offered its chief financial officer a $100,000 bonus to remain with the company, The Boston Business Journal reported this morning.

In late December, Harald Stock, OvaScience’s chief executive officer, and Chief Operating Officer Paul Chapman resigned their positions. The resignations were announced as part of a corporate restructuring that resulted in the termination of 30 percent of its workforce. The loss of those executives may have been two too many for the company. In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, OvaScience’s board of directors approved the bonus if CFO Christophe Couturier remained with the company.

With the loss of Stock and Chapman, OvaScience’s leadership page shows three names—Michelle Dipp, cofounder and executive chair, James Luterman, executive vice president of research and development, and Couturier, chief financial officer. Dipp is currently overseeing operations while the company conducts a comprehensive search for a new chief executive officer.

OvaScience has been struggling due to a lack of being able to sell its products in the United States due, in part, to the lack of large clinical trials, the Journal said.

In December, the company provided its business update regarding plans for Augment, a treatment designed to improve in vitro fertilization. In its announcement, Waltham-based OvaScience said it will continue to make Augment available in Japan and Canada, but planned to reassess clinical studies of the therapy, including an ongoing study in Spain. The company will also slow its plans for a multi-center clinical trial and will provide an update in the near-term, it said. Although OvaScience did not provide specific reasons for its reason to slow the Augment program, it said it is confident in the safety and efficacy of the treatment. The company added that it is scheduled to speak with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2017 about bringing the treatment into the United States.

Additionally, OvaScience said it will slow its commercial expansion and undertake a corporate restructuring. The changes will enable the company to extend its cash position through the first quarter of 2019 and allow it to increase its focus on the development of two therapeutic candidates, OvaPrime and OvaTure, the company said in a statement. OvaPrime is a potential fertility treatment that could enable a woman to increase her egg reserve by repositioning her egg precursor cells within her ovary, where they may mature into fertilizable eggs. The company is currently enrolling patients into a trial in Canada. OvaTure, is a potential next-generation IVF treatment that could help a woman produce healthy, young, fertilizable eggs without hormone injections by maturing EggPC cells into eggs in vitro, or outside of the body, according to company data.

During the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference last week, OvaScience said it would spend part of 2017 testing its fertilization treatments in cows, the Journal reported. The Journal did not say which treatment would be tested.

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