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Optimer Pharmaceuticals Announces Key Additions to Management Team

SAN DIEGO, Jan. 10, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Optimer Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: OPTR) today announced the appointment of Linda Amper, Ph.D., as Senior Vice President of Human Resources, Hemal Shah as Senior Vice President of Health, Economics & Outcomes Research (HEOR), and John Womelsdorf, Ph.D., as Vice President of Business Development. These key positions will strengthen the management team as the Company prepares to become a commercial organization and prepares for the potential launch of its lead product candidate, fidaxomicin.


"These additions to our management team are an important step as we continue preparing for the planned commercialization of fidaxomicin," said Pedro Lichtinger, Optimer's President and CEO. "With the potential marketing approval of fidaxomicin in 2011, the expansion of our management team will help support and manage the anticipated growth at the Company, leverage the health economic benefit of fidaxomicin, and maximize business development and licensing opportunities."

Dr. Amper, with more than 20 years of experience in human resources, joins Optimer from OSI Pharmaceuticals (now Astellas Pharma) where she served as Senior Vice President, Human Resources for the last nine years. During her tenure at OSI, Dr. Amper transitioned the company from a research entity into a fully integrated commercial organization. Prior to joining OSI, she served at the New York Blood Center for 23 years where she held several key positions including her final position as Executive Director and Vice President of Long Island Blood Services, a division of the New York Blood Center.  Immediately prior to that position, Dr. Amper served as Vice President, Human Resources for the New York Blood Center.  Dr. Amper holds a Ph.D. in philosophy, health administration from Columbia Southern, a Master of Public Administration with a specialization in health care from C.W. Post College, and a B.S. in, medical biology also from C.W. Post College.

Hemal Shah has spent more than 10 years in HEOR at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, most recently as Executive Director, where she was focused on the hospital market for the launch of Spivira® for a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.  She held positions of increasing responsibility in HEOR, implementing HEOR tools including medication adherence, healthcare reforms, health related quality of life research, health economic model development, and pharmacoeconomic analyses to support arguments for commercialization. Shah received her Doctor of Pharmacy from Rutgers State University and holds a B.S. from the University of Connecticut.

Dr. Womelsdorf has more than 15 years of experience in business development roles at Cyclacel Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson (J&J), F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Baxter International and, most recently, with his own consulting firm.  As the Vice President, Business Development at Cyclacel, he was responsible for all aspects of corporate and business development and licensing including the repositioning of key programs. During his tenure at J&J, Dr. Womelsdorf closed multiple transactions, including a deal with MGI Pharma that gave J&J rights outside North America to Dacogen™ (decitabine), a late stage oncology product with utility in Myelodysplastic Syndromes, Acute Myeloid Leukemia and other cancers. He was appointed to the Board of Tibotec Therapeutics, J&J's oncology and virology company, where he helped oversee the transition of the Company to a commercial entity culminating in the successful launch of Prezista™ (darunivir), a novel protease inhibitor for the treatment of HIV. Prior to joining J&J, he worked as a Global Licensing Director for F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc., closing a variety of transactions in hematology, oncology and virology and negotiating Roche's global co-development/co-promotion agreement in a transaction with GlaxoSmithKline to commercialize ibandronate in osteoporosis. Dr. Womelsdorf received his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Stevens Institute of Technology and holds an M.B.A. from Columbia University.

About Optimer PharmaceuticalsOptimer Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company focused on discovering, developing and commercializing hospital specialty products to treat serious infections and address unmet medical needs. Optimer has two anti-infective product candidates in development, fidaxomicin and Pruvel™ (prulifloxacin).  Fidaxomicin is a narrow spectrum antibiotic being developed for the treatment of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI).  The Company has submitted an NDA to the FDA, and filed a MAA with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for fidaxomicin. Pruvel™ is a prodrug in the fluoroquinolone class of antibiotics being developed as a treatment for infectious diarrhea. Additional information can be found at

Forward-Looking StatementsStatements included in this press release that are not a description of historical facts are forward-looking statements, including without limitation all statements related to the potential approval and commercial launch of fidaxomicin, Optimer's establishment of a commercial organization and the future roles and contributions of  Dr. Amper, Hemal Shah, and Dr. Womelsdorf at Optimer. Words such as "believes," "anticipates," "plans," "expects," "intend," "will," "goal" and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. The inclusion of forward-looking statements should not be regarded as a representation by Optimer that any of its plans will be achieved. Actual results may differ materially from those set forth in this release due to the risks and uncertainties inherent in Optimer's business including, without limitation, risks relating to: the timing, progress and likelihood of success of its product development efforts, the timing and status of regulatory filings, receipt of regulatory approvals, Optimer's ability to recruit and retain a commercial sales force, and other risks detailed in Optimer's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.ContactsOptimer Pharmaceuticals, Inc.Christina Donaghy, Corporate Communications ManagerJohn D. Prunty, Chief Financial Officer & VP Finance858-909-0736Canale Communications, Inc.Jason I. Spark, Senior Vice President619-849-6005

SOURCE Optimer Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
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