Valeant names Howard Schiller as interim CEO

Valeant names Howard Schiller as interim CEO

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NEW YORK (AP) — Valeant Pharmaceuticals has named former finance chief Howard Schiller as interim CEO while the troubled drug company's chairman and chief executive remains hospitalized with severe pneumonia.

Valeant said Tuesday that J. Michael Pearson is still on medical leave, and it did not know when he would return. Robert Ingram, the company's lead independent director, will serve as interim board chairman.

Shares of the Canadian company fell before markets opened.

Valeant, based in Laval, Quebec, announced Pearson's hospitalization late last month. It then said last week that three executives, a group that did not include Schiller or Ingram, would take over company leadership in his absence.

Valeant said Schiller will become interim CEO immediately. He served as the company's chief financial officer from the end of 2011 through June 2015 and is currently a member of the company's board.

Before Valeant, Schiller spent 24 years at the investment banking firm Goldman Sachs. He served as a chief operating officer and was responsible for health care and consumer products, among other businesses in the company's investment banking division.

Pearson, 56, joined Valeant in 2008 after a 23-year career with the consulting firm McKinsey & Co., for which he served as head of its global pharmaceutical practice.

He helped build a relatively small business that made generic drugs and chronic illness treatments into a major pharmaceutical company through a string of acquisitions. Valeant, formerly based in California, combined with Wellbutrin XL maker Biovail in 2010 to form Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. Its sales climbed from $2.46 billion in 2011 to an expected $10.4 billion to $10.5 billion for this year.

Valeant has taken criticism for its practice of buying other pharmaceutical companies, slashing jobs and then hiking the price of the drugs it acquires. Congress, in particular, has targeted the Canadian drugmaker, which also has received multiple subpoenas from federal prosecutors seeking information about drug pricing, a topic of growing concern to U.S. patients and politicians.

Valeant also drew scrutiny earlier this year for its relationship with the drug distributor Philidor, amid allegations that Philidor created a network of "phantom pharmacies" to steer pharmacy benefit managers toward Valeant's more-expensive drugs over cheaper alternatives. Valeant cut ties with Philidor in October and later announced a distribution deal with the drugstore chain Walgreens for its dermatology and ophthalmology treatments.

Last month, Valeant slashed its expectations for the fourth quarter and all of 2015 and issued a guarded outlook for 2016 mainly due to lower sales.

Shares of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. fell more than 3 percent, or $3.23, to $97.63 shortly before markets opened Wednesday. The stock had hit an all-time high price of $263.81 in August before tumbling for much of the fall.

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