Watch Live: Congressional Hearing Pits Bill Ackman And Outgoing Valeant CEO Against Angry Senators

Tyler Durden's picture

In a few moments, a major showdown will take place in the Senate when on the same table Valeant's outgoing CEO Michael Pearson will sit next to Valeant's most prominent investor Bill Ackman and also the former CFO, Howard Schiller, who the company recently tried to scapegoat for most of the problem that sent the stock price of VRX crashing 85% from its summer 2015 highs.

The hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging is the third in a series focused on “sudden, aggressive price spikes of decades-old prescription drugs,” according to an e-mailed statement. Valeant is one of four drugmakers under investigation by the panel, which is probing practices including acquiring and then significantly raising the list price of older medicines. Pearson was deposed for nine hours by the committee last week, according to Bloomberg.

According to his prepared testimony, Pearson will tell lawmakers that he was "too aggressive" and made mistakes in drastically hiking prices for several critical medicines. Pearson will issue the unusual mea culpa on Capitol Hill for the business strategy that made Valeant an industry powerhouse but also triggered a backlash against the Canadian drugmaker.

"Let me state plainly that it was a mistake to pursue, and in hindsight I regret pursuing, transactions where a central premise was a planned increase in the prices of the medicines," Pearson states in the written testimony.

While the comments come days before Pearson is to be replaced as Valeant CEO with the former CEO of Perrigo, they may not win much sympathy from members of the Senate Committee on Aging. The committee is investigating the dramatic price increases pushed by Valeant and several other drugmakers.

Another problem as noted by Wells Fargo earlier, is that as the following chart from Wells Fargo clearly shows, in the year after which Valeant got in trouble for boosting prices, it continued to do so, and in the first quarter of 2016 alone, the average year-over-year price increase across a basket of 30 products was a whopping 78%.

 

A longtime corporate consultant, Pearson took the reins at Valeant in 2008 and embarked on a spree of more than 140 acquisitions, buying up rights to older, niche drugs and repeatedly hiking prices. Pearson's approach — which bypassed the huge research and development investments typically made by drugmakers — seemed to offer a cheaper, more reliable business model and made him a favorite of Wall Street investors. He also pioneered the tax-dodging "inversion" technique later employed by other U.S. companies, merging with firms overseas to take advantage of their reduced tax rates.

The company caught the attention of Congress last year after buying two life-saving heart drugs, Nitropress and Isuprel, and hiking their prices, tripling one and raising the other six-fold.

Pearson says that Valeant decided to raise the prices after learning that cheaper generic versions of the drugs would soon hit the market. "In retrospect, we relied too heavily on the industry practice of increasing the price of brand name drugs in the months before generic entry," he states in his testimony.

In recent months, Valeant has been swamped by a host of problems including three ongoing federal probes of its accounting and pricing practices, massive debt and the threat of default on agreements with creditors and bondholders.

Pearson also got in trouble recently for refusing to be deposed only to ultimately succumb to Congressional demands.

We expect sparks will fly, tempers will rise and fingers will be pointed during today's testimony starting at 3:30 PM eastern.

An audio stream of the hearing is available at the following link.

Watch the video stream below.

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NoDebt's picture

All we need now is Martin Shkreli and we'll have all Three Stooges in one place.

Wonder how Martin's been doing lately.  One little indictment and that seemed to shut his narrow ass up but good.  You out there Martin?  Are your rapper buddies still hanging out with you?  No, I don't suppose they are.

lincolnsteffens's picture

Since this is a Canadian company why would any of the upper management put themselves before a US Congress?

D Nyle's picture

Because the insider trading congress and senate lost their ass on a investment, they want answers.

tc06rtw's picture

   
 …  By now, I’d think Shkreli’s narrow ass should be opened up quite nicely.

KnuckleDragger-X's picture

If it trades on the NYSE, they can fuck with you, and Ackman ain't a Canuck........

junction's picture

Meanwhile, hedge fund billionaire Paul Singer's corruption in getting FDA "exclusivity" on the 2,000 year old gout drug colchicine gets a pass by this corrupt Congress and its fearless jihadist President.

FYI: Hedge fund operator Paul Singer runs Elliott Associates L.P.  Since 1997, Elliott Associates has been the majority owner of URL Pharma, a.k.a. Mutual Pharmaceutical Company,  Inc., a Philadelphia based manufacturer of generic drugs.  In 2010, the FDA granted URL Pharma three year exclusivity on the sale of its branded version of colchicine, called Colcrys.   Colchicine is an ancient treatment of gout, going back 2,000 years ago. [wikipedia: "Colchicum extract was first described as a treatment for gout in De Materia Medica by Pedanius Dioscorides, in the first century AD."]  The FDA based this drug exclusivity on fraudulent drug study which was a tissue of lies and is now the subject of a qui tam lawsuit.  This drug study went so far as to poison test subjects with overdoses of colchicine, so the trials were canceled early and some subjects probably had to be hospitalized.  The bogus study was carried out toget exclusivity under the Hatch-Waxman amendments passed in 2006.  Once URL Pharma got its exclusivity based on smoke, mirrors and payoffs, it raised the pill cost of the colchicine from about a dime to $5.00.  The FDA threatened severe legal action against the other generic makers of colchicine, forcing them to stop selling their low cost versions of the drug. 

In 2012, Takeda Pharmaceuticals paid $800 million for URL Pharma, just to get control of its brand name version of colchicine, Colcrys.  Also in 2012, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch received a campaign contributions of $38,750 from Elliott Management, the first time Paul Singer gave Hatch campaign money on the books.  Singer made another contribution of the same amount for the 2014 election cycle, again making him one of Hatch's top 20 donors.  As mentioned, Senator Hatch was co-sponsor of the Hatch-Waxman amendments that allowed the FDA to create the three year exclusivity program [racket] in 2006.

 

buzzsaw99's picture

Senate Special Committee on Aging...

very funny ha ha ha

FrankieGoesToHollywood's picture

Otherwise known as the Death Panel.

Mini-Me's picture

I thought the Fed wanted inflation.  They're getting it with Big Pharma, not to mention with the Obamacare debacle, education costs, food prices, rental rates...

Despite all that, we're expected to believe that price infation is 2%.  Of course, these same liars tell us that the unemployment rate is 5% and that the economy is not contracting, so expecting the truth from these a-holes is wishful thinking.

 

Philo Beddoe's picture

When is the Senate committee on chronic flatulance scheduled to meet? 

lincolnsteffens's picture

Please give me enough advance notice so I can leave for a distant remote island.

Phillyguy's picture

The Valeant business model- acquire innovations make by other firms using barrowed money, increase prices of the newly acquired drugs as much as possible. At the same time, slash spending on research and development. In other words, a get-rich-quick approach, aka Greed. Variations of this theme are being increasingly used by other corporations.

FrankieGoesToHollywood's picture

They have time for this between baseball steroid use hearings???

wmbz's picture

"Senate Special Committee"

"Special" As in special group of fucking reatrds putting on a sorry ass dog & pony show.

Not one damn thing will come of it, as always. A huge waste of money for a lousy production, with a piss poor cast!

Raging Debate's picture

Senator CheataLot to Bill Ackman: "Hey asshole your only supposed to steal from the plebs not us!"

Frankie Carbone's picture

Congress Live? Well Thank God, I was going to get up and flip on Comedy Central and now Tyler has saved me the effort. 

Squid Viscous's picture

"Battle of the Greedy Jews!!" Tune in at 8pm on CNBS!

(borrowed from Battle of the Network Stars. but most of them were jews anyway)

https://www.google.com/search?q=battle+of+the+network+stars&tbm=isch&img...

"Nobody gets away with this!!!"

(actually they all do, and the jew lawyers make 400-500/hour)

 

Palladin's picture

 

 

I'm no fan of the New York Times, but this is a pretty good article and would be a good one to wave in Ackman's face and say WTF do you have to say about this?

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/05/business/valeants-drug-price-strategy-...

From the article:

The price of one Valeant drug, Mephyton, which helps blood clot better, has been increased eight times since July 2014, he said, and now costs about $58.76 a tablet, up from $9.37. The price of another, Edecrin, a diuretic, has gone up nine times since May 2014 and is now at $4,600 a vial, up from about $470. When his staff called to inquire, Valeant refused to discuss pricing over the phone, Mr. Rosner said.

The generic equivalent of Cuprimine, the drug taken by Mr. Mannes, is being sold by some foreign pharmacies for $1 a tablet, in contrast to the $260 Valeant is now charging.

Another instance where VRX jacked up the price of a drug

http://brontecapital.blogspot.com/2016/03/do-you-want-to-die-with-dignit...

But some people are coming up with alternatives.

http://www.yakimaherald.com/news/death-with-dignity-doctors-thwart-drugm...

 

 

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o r c k's picture

A typical nauseating spectacle with our cowardly .gov employees and one of their crime syndicates. ALL downhill for the average American. And here's the bottom.

HowardBeale's picture

I wonder how many people Ackman and his VRX gang have murdered via their unlimited greed...

The world would be a better place if these executives were dead.