Valeant Says Senior Executive's Departure Unrelated to Probe

  • Deb Jorn left for personal reasons, according to Valeant
  • `The optics of the resignation certainly do not look good'

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. said the departure of Deb Jorn, its head of U.S. dermatology products, wasn’t the result of any action taken by an ad hoc board committee that’s probing the drugmaker’s now-severed relationships with a controversial mail-order pharmacy.

“It is our understanding that Deb Jorn decided to leave Valeant for personal reasons,” the company said in a statement Thursday.

Valeant announced the resignation of Jorn in a first statement Wednesday night, then followed up with the second statement Thursday. The change is effective immediately and comes after three tumultuous days following the return of Chief Executive Officer Michael Pearson from a two-month medical leave. She was in charge of all major U.S. product launches and was also general manager of the U.S. dermatology business, according to the company’s website.

When reached by phone at her home Wednesday before the Wednesday statement, Jorn declined to comment.

“She’s a leader for two of their most important segments, so at a minimum, the optics of the resignation certainly do not look good,” said David Amsellem, an analyst at Piper Jaffray who has a neutral rating on the stock. The shares fell 3 percent to $65.44 at 9:43 a.m. in New York Thursday.

Since Sunday night, Valeant has pulled its financial guidance and delayed providing fourth-quarter results, saying it will wait to file until the board committee’s investigation of Philidor RX Services is completed. Valeant also disclosed that it was subpoenaed last year by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The stock is down 16 percent this week as of Wednesday’s close, and has lost three-quarters of its value since an August 2015 peak of $262.52.

Jorn will be replaced by Eric Abramson, who had served as the company’s vice president of dermatology and immunology marketing, Valeant said.

‘Driving Force’

On the drugmaker’s website, Jorn is described as the “driving force behind the successful launches of Jublia and Luzu.” Jublia, a toenail fungus drug, has come under scrutiny in recent months. CVS Health Corp. said it plans to restrict the drug as part of an initiative aimed at cutting spending on costly dermatology treatments. Express Scripts Holding Co., CVS’s main rival, also has plans to make toenail fungus drugs “significantly more affordable” for its clients. Jublia retails at about $1,000 for an 8-milliliter bottle, according to the website GoodRx.

Valeant has been criticized for the high prices of some of its products after buying two drugs, Isuprel and Nitropress, and soon after raising their prices by 525 percent and 212 percent, respectively. Howard Schiller, who served as interim CEO while Pearson was on sick leave, testified before Congress in February about the company’s drug-pricing practices and promised to end an era of sharp hikes.

Jorn joined Valeant from Bausch & Lomb, where she was vice president of global marketing for five years. Valeant bought the eye-care company in 2013. Prior to that, she worked at drugmakers Schering-Plough and Johnson & Johnson, according to Valeant’s website.

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