Valeant Said to Name New CEO With Pearson Still Hospitalized

Why Schiller as Interim CEO Is Good for Valeant
  • Schiller, Rosiello may be candidates, Wall Street Journal says
  • Pearson remains on medical leave for severe pneumonia

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. will name a new chief executive officer to lead the company while Michael Pearson remains hospitalized after contracting severe pneumonia, a person familiar with the matter said Tuesday.

The move is to clarify the company’s management structure ahead of the year’s biggest health-care conference beginning next week, the person said. Valeant said earlier Tuesday that Pearson wouldn’t participate in the JPMorgan Chase & Co. conference in San Francisco.

Michael Pearson
Michael Pearson
Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

The appointment of Pearson’s replacement is meant, at least initially, to be temporary, the person said. Former Chief Financial Officer Howard Schiller and his successor, Robert Rosiello, could be candidates, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier Tuesday, citing people familiar with the situation.

Valeant shares dropped 7.2 percent to $93.55 in late trading. Through Tuesday’s close, they had fallen 12 percent since Pearson’s hospitalization was disclosed on Christmas Day.

The drugmaker announced that Pearson was taking a medical leave of absence starting on Dec. 28 and that the company would be run by a team of three executives, including General Counsel Robert Chai-Onn, Executive Vice President Ari Kellen and CFO Rosiello. Valeant board members Schiller, Robert Ingram and Mason Morfit were tapped to oversee the executives.

Lung Infection

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs caused by bacteria, a virus or fungi, with symptoms including cough, fever and difficulty breathing. With treatment, most patients improve within one to three weeks, according to the American Lung Association. About 53,000 people in the U.S. died of it in 2013, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pearson’s illness has threatened to hamper the company’s recent efforts to win back investors’ trust. Earlier this month, the 56-year-old executive urged investors to look past concerns that have sent the stock of the Laval, Quebec-based company down more than 50 percent from its August peak, saying they should focus on products that will grow beyond expectations.

Pearson has promised shareholders to provide more transparent data about Valeant’s business, including sales figures for its top 30 drugs. The company’s strategy has drawn scrutiny from lawmakers and investors for its use of mail-order pharmacies, price increases and acquisitions for growth.

To rebuild, Pearson reached a deal in December with Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. to sell Valeant drugs in the drugstore chain’s pharmacies, replacing an arrangement with a controversial mail-order pharmacy called Philidor Rx Services.

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