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W. Thomas Amick, 71, a retired biotechnology executive, has been named president and CEO of Dendreon as John H. Johnson carries out his early July decision to step down from leadership of the struggling company.

Amick had a long career at Johnson & Johnson, also the alma mater of the departing Dendreon CEO. The company says he “built J&J’s oncology franchise into a multibillion-dollar operation.”

According to Dendreon, Amick most recently was chairman and CEO of Discovery Labs, a Pennsylvania-based specialty biotechnology company, from 2010 through 2012.

In between those roles, he led a small North Carolina biotech firm that twice abandoned plans to go public and was sold for what the acquiring CEO in one report called a “very advantageous” price.

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At Dendreon, he will lead a company whose pioneering prostate-cancer drug faces sharp competition from newer therapies. Dendreon also has about $600 million of convertible debt due in 2016 and no clear way to repay.

The company said Amick will get a base salary of $600,000, a signing bonus of $100,000 and restricted stock awards totaling 250,000 shares.

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