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Aeterna Zentaris ex-CEO, general counsel counter-sue company for defamation

Aeterna Zentaris Inc.'s former CEO David Dodd and former general counsel Philip Theodore have filed a counter claim alleging defamation by Aeterna in a lawsuit claiming the two conspired to take control of the company.

An internal investigation at Aeterna uncovered a "conspiracy" between the former CEO and general counsel to devise a secret plan known as Project Rescue, while still being employed by the company, that outlined a path to acquire the U.S. rights to growth hormone deficiency drug Macrilen through RiversEdge BioVentures LLC, which is owned by Dodd, or another newly incorporated company, according to the claims.

Macrilen received FDA approval Dec. 20.

Dodd and Theodore have submitted their defense and affidavits to support their position that Aeterna's claims of conspiracy are without merit. The documents say the individuals did not breach their fiduciary duties to the company or their obligations to maintain confidentiality of the company's information.

They are seeking $6 million in damages.

Dodd and Theodore remain significant shareholders of Aeterna and do not intend to initiate or support a proxy contest for the replacement of Aeterna's directors currently.

Dodd will continue to serve as a director of the company and pursue his claim against Aeterna for the payment of his severance entitlement.