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Optimer Pharmaceuticals, Inc. recently announced its decision to sell its stake in Optimer Biotechnology, Inc. (OBI) to the latter’s current shareholders for $60 million. Optimer expects to utilize the sale proceeds for the commercialization of Dificid (fidaxomicin) tablets and other corporate purposes.

Optimer expects to close the transaction in two phases - the first in the fourth quarter this year and the second in the first quarter of 2013.

In October 2009, Optimer had sold 40% of its equity in OBI. With the company selling off its remaining stake, OBI has now become an independent organization.

Apart from announcing the sale of its stake in OBI, Optimer also reported US gross sales of Dificid for the third quarter of 2012. Gross sales of the drug came in at $18.4 million in the third quarter of 2012, up 2.2% sequentially. The company also shipped 6,436 Dificid treatments during the quarter, which reflects a 5% increase quarter over quarter. The company will be reporting third quarter results on November 1, 2012.

We remind investors that Dificid, Optimer’s sole marketed product, was launched in the US in July 2011 for treating patients suffering from clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea (CDAD), the most common form of nosocomial, or hospital acquired, diarrhea. Dificid is also available in Canada. Moreover, Dificid is approved in the European Union under the trade name, Dificlir.

Optimer has an exclusive two-year agreement (through July 2013) with Cubist Pharmaceuticals (CBST - Analyst Report) to co-promote Dificid in the US for the treatment of CDAD.

Our Recommendation

Currently, we have a Neutral stance on Optimer in the long run. The company carries a Zacks #3 Rank (Hold rating) in the short run. We remain concerned about the company’s dependence on Dificid for growth.

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