CEO will testify to Senate Special Committee on Aging, Valeant says

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Update, April 13: The Senate Special Committee on Aging has announced that J. Michael Pearson will give his deposition April 18 in advance of the April 27 hearing. The committee has put on hold its plans to hold Pearson in contempt.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals International said that CEO J. Michael Pearson will testify when the Senate Special Committee on Aging holds its next hearing on drug pricing April 27.

The Canadian company issued a statement April 11 after the Senate committee scheduled a business meeting to initiate contempt proceedings against Pearson after he did not appear for a deposition in relation to the committee's ongoing investigation of “sudden, aggressive price spikes of decades-old Rx drugs.”

“His actions and those of Valeant are central to the investigation pursued by this committee,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), chairwoman of the committee, and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), ranking member, said in a joint statement. “Therefore, it is our intent to initiate contempt proceedings against Mr. Pearson.”

Valeant said it has requested that Pearson cooperate with the subpoena to be deposed. “The board understands that Mr. Pearson is in dialogue with the Senate Committee on Aging regarding his deposition and that those discussions are ongoing,” according to its statement.

Valeant has been in the news for price hikes related to several of its drugs, including the 30-year-old antidepressant Wellbutrin XL. Since 2014, the list price of the drug has increased 11 times, according to Bloomberg, and as of January, the retail price for a year's supply of the 300 mg dosage was approximately $17,000. The company has set up a special website where it posts rebuttals to some allegations made against it.

In March, Valeant announced that it was seeking a new CEO but that Pearson would continue to serve in that position and as a director until his replacement is appointed. “While I regret the controversies that have adversely impacted our business over the past several months, I know that Valeant is a strong and resilient company, and I am committed to doing everything I can to ensure a smooth transition to new leadership,” Pearson said at the time.

The April 27 hearing will be the third that the Senate Special Committee on Aging has held on drug pricing. Members have heard from medical providers, government officials, company executives and pharmaceutical investors on Dec. 9 and March 17.

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