Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne Taking Leave, Battles Hep C

Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK) CEO Patrick Byrne is taking a leave of absence from the online retailer as he fights a long running battle against Hepatitis-C.

“30 years ago in China I contracted Hep C.  I got a bad head wound and a ‘barefoot doctor’ they called him, sewed me up.  I’ll give you the facts, I went stage 4 last summer, seemed to have gotten through the treatment but it’s been quite harsh on me and it’s on top of a long, I’ve actually had 106 surgeries, 51 times they stopped my heart electrically, another 50 times chemically,” Byrne told the FOX Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo.

Byrne added that his illness has escalated in recent months.

“Between the heart and that and everything else it was really bad for the last several years, more heart problems and all kinds of other stuff, but yeah, it got really tough in the last 6 months.”

FOX Business Network’s Dagen McDowell asked about Byrnes’ treatment and whether it included the breakthrough Hepatitis C medications Sovaldi or Harvoni, both made by Gilead Sciences (NASDAQ:GILD).

“Unfortunately those don’t work as well.  I have a strain contracted in central Asia and the ones being developed here in the U.S. don’t really work, sort of 23% success rate on other ones,” said Byrne.

Coming out to the public, says Byrne, was also a requirement of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Partly due to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) founder Steve Jobs and his long, and sometimes mystery, battle with pancreatic cancer.

“Since Steve Jobs sort of shuffled everything under the table, you can’t just say now, ‘medical leave of absence,’ the lawyer said you actually have to explain what the disease is, so on and so forth and what the prognosis is,” Byrne said.

He also weighed in on his recommendation for the acting CEO at Overstock during his leave of absence.

“I’m proposing to the Board a wonderful CEO, he’s our general counsel, he’s the man who built not only BitTorrent and Razor but Skullcandy.  When some 20-somethings in Park City, Utah, came up with the idea for some colorful ear buds and they needed some adult supervision they hired this guy and he built Skullcandy, his name’s Mitch Edwards,” said Byrne.

For those who follow Byrne’s frequent sound-offs via Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), he says he’ll be dialing those back, “Oh no, I am completely unplugging, I’m going big mountain skiing in Alyeska, Alaska, and I am going to go heli skiing for a week or two and then go maybe sit on a beach somewhere and swim.”