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Valeant CEO Pearson may be held in contempt by Senate committee

Saturday, April 9, 2016 - 11:14

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A Senate committee may start contempt proceedings against Michael Pearson, chief executive officer of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc, for failing to appear to give testimony related to an investigation on drug pricing.

[NEW YORK] A Senate committee may start contempt proceedings against Michael Pearson, chief executive officer of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc, for failing to appear to give testimony related to an investigation on drug pricing.

"Michael Pearson was under subpoena to appear for a deposition today related to the Senate Special Committee on Aging's drug pricing investigation, and he did not comply with that subpoena," Senators Susan Collins and Claire McCaskill said in a statement late Friday.

"It is our intent to initiate contempt proceedings against Mr Pearson." Ms Collins, a Republican, is the chairwoman of the panel and Ms McCaskill is the ranking Democrat.

Mr Pearson was subpoenaed to testify at an April 27 hearing, the latest in a series of congressional probes into how drugmakers price medications. Both the Senate and House have called on Valeant to testify.

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"Valeant has cooperated with the committee's inquiry since the beginning, including providing the committee with thousands of pages of documents," said Laurie Little, a spokeswoman for Valeant, in an e-mailed statement.

"Mr Pearson looks forward to testifying publicly at the committee's hearing on April 27, but has informed the company and the committee that he does not intend to also appear for private testimony in advance of the hearing."

It's a new blow for embattled Valeant, which has suffered multiple controversies and setbacks in recent months related to its business practices, accounting and drug pricing. In March, the company announced that Mr Pearson will step down once a replacement is found.

Since December, fifteen executives and experts have appeared at the hearings.

Only one person was subpoenaed: former pharmaceuticals executive Martin Shkreli, who has been charged with securities fraud, invoked his Fifth Amendment right and refused to testify at a House hearing in February.

At the February hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Howard Schiller, a former Valeant finance chief who was then interim CEO while Mr Pearson was on medical leave, testified for the company.

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