Valeant CEO Pearson Hospitalized for Case of ‘Severe’ Pneumonia

  • Company isn't giving details about nature of his illness
  • Investors have sent stock down 57% from high amid scandals

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc., the drugmaker battered by scandals and questions about sales, said its chief executive officer spent Christmas in a hospital being treated for “severe” pneumonia.

J. Michael Pearson, 56, was admitted recently and is receiving treatment, company spokeswoman Laurie Little said Friday by e-mail. She declined to elaborate.

“We wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to him returning to work when he is feeling better,” Little said in a statement. “We will be respecting Mike and his family’s privacy during this time and will provide further details on his condition as appropriate.”

Last week, Pearson urged investors to look past the concerns that have sent the stock of the Laval, Quebec-based company down 57 percent from its August peak this year and said they should focus on products that will grow beyond current expectations.

Pearson promised shareholders to provide more transparent data about Valeant’s business, including sales figures for its top 30 drugs. But his tone was more defiant than apologetic when discussing the company’s strategy, which has drawn scrutiny from lawmakers and investors for its use of mail-order pharmacies, price increases and acquisitions for growth.

Pearson had been working recently to win back investors’ trust. He reached a deal with Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. to sell Valeant drugs in the drugstore chain’s pharmacies at a discount.

Hedge funds crowded into Valeant and have been punished for it as the drugmaker’s stock plunged this year. Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management, one of the largest holders of the stock, was down more than 17 percent in 2015 through November.

The New York Times reported on Pearson’s illness earlier Friday.

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