On the eve of Christmas season, when everyone was deeply involved in welcoming Santa and celebrating the festival, Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc’s CEO was battling with severe pneumonia in a hospital. Laurie Little, spokeswoman of the company, said that J. Michael Pearson, 56-year-old CEO, was admitted recently and is receiving treatment. She said that the company’s wishes and blessings are with Mr. Pearson and they wish a speedy recovery for him.
Last week, Mr. Pearson urged investors to look past the concerns that caused 57% drop in the shares of the Laval, Quebec-based company, from its August peak this year. He advised the team to focus on products that will grow beyond current expectations. He even promised shareholders to provide more transparent data about Valeant’s business, including sales figures for its top 30 drugs. But, his speech raised anger among lawmakers and investors for its use of mail-order pharmacies, price increases and acquisitions for growth because they consider his voice was much defiant than apologetic.
Since long time, Pearson had been working to win back investors’ trust and so he reached a deal with Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. to sell Valeant drugs in the drugstore chain’s pharmacies at a discount. Last year Valeant joined with with Bill Ackman to buy Allergan but the Botox maker fought the hostile bid and ended up getting acquired by Actavis PLC. In November, Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management, one of the largest holders of the stock, was down more than 17%. Having a look at the professional life of Mr. Pearson, he is a former McKinsey & Co. consultant who was the architect behind Valeant’s turnaround from a troubled small drugmaker. Since taking Valeant’s helm in 2008, Mr. Pearson used dozens of acquisitions to expand the business and turn it into one of the most highflying stocks. Valeant now has a $39 billion market cap.