In May 2017, Mr Tony O’Brien sought my consent within the terms of his contract of employment as Director General of the HSE to accept an appointment as a non-Executive Director of a commercial business. The Director General advised that the business was based outside the State, concerned with research and development and was not engaged in business with the HSE. He advised that the functions would be performed in his own time without detriment to his work as Director General. He indicated that normal directors' fees would be payable. He also advised that all necessary taxation and Standards in Public Office declarations would be made.
Approval was conveyed in principle on 6th June on the basis that the business was based outside the State and is neither competitive with or engaging in business with the HSE and that the functions would be performed on his own time and without detriment to his work as DG of the HSE.
Mr O’Brien was asked to provide further details of the company, the estimated time commitment and fee arrangement to the Secretary General of the Department of Health in order that the matter could be finalised.
On 7 December, Mr O’Brien advised that the company in question is Evofem Biosciences Inc. based in San Diego, California which focuses on women’s healthcare. Its research and development particularly covers areas of unmet medical need in contraception, sexually transmitted infection and for the prevention of recurrence of bacterial vaginosis.
On 20 December 2017, the Secretary General, with my consent, confirmed approval to Mr O’Brien taking up the appointment subject to confirmation of details on remuneration and time commitment, and subject to the proviso that I, as Minister, reserve the right to review consent should a conflict of interest arise in the future or should there be any negative impact on Mr O’Brien’s work as Director General.
On 25 January, 2018 Mr O’Brien confirmed that he had been formally appointed to the Board of Evofem Biosciences Inc. on a non-executive basis. Mr O’Brien also confirmed that Directors' fees payable to him amount to US$ 65,000 per annum exclusive of stock participation options.
Mr O’Brien has advised that he envisaged that his time commitment would amount to 5 hours per month and that his attendance at Board meetings would be linked to periods of annual leave. Mr O’Brien also confirmed that the company has no products which have FDA approval and therefore no products on the Irish market.
Mr O’Brien has informed me that he is taking a leave of absence from his approved external non-executive board position with Evofem Biosciences Incorporated until July and completion of his contract as Director General.