Valeant Forms Committee to Oversee Drug Prices Under New CEO

  • New chief Papa committed to ensure mistakes are not repeated
  • Priority is ensuring patients get access to drugs, CEO says

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. new Chief Executive Officer Joseph Papa made his first move to reset the company’s strategy with the creation of a committee responsible for drug pricing.

The board will oversee the new Patient Access and Pricing Committee, which will be chaired by Papa himself and include Valeant employees, doctors and scientists, according to a statement Thursday.

Papa took over this week after Valeant shook up the board and pledged better oversight of management. His arrival followed months of turmoil at Valeant, which has become an emblem of high pharmaceutical costs in the U.S. and is being investigated for buying the rights to old, inexpensive drugs and then significantly raising their prices.

“Valeant has made mistakes in how it priced its drugs in the past, and we are committed to ensuring those mistakes are not repeated,” Papa said in the statement. “This new committee will take a disciplined approach to reviewing the company’s pricing of drugs, and will consider the impact on patients, doctors, and our health care industry partners.”

The shares, which have lost more than 85 percent of their value since their August peak, dropped 2.2 percent after the markets closed.

Price Hikes

The committee will specifically look at four drugs that were at the center of Congressional investigations: Nitropress, Isuprel, Cuprimine, and Syprine. The first two are heart treatments that Valeant acquired and then quickly raised their prices by 525 percent and 212 percent, respectively. Syprine and Cuprimine are used to treat a genetic disorder called Wilson’s disease.

Papa, who joined from generic-drug maker Perrigo Co., will need to come up with a new strategy that doesn’t rely on raising prices to turn around the embattled drugmaker. The company had become a darling of Wall Street with a business model that relied on acquisitions, lower research and development spending, and price hikes.

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