Last July, Turing Pharmaceuticals’ CEO Martin Shkreli became a lightning rod for growing outrage over soaring prescription drug prices after he raised the price of a newly-acquired drug from $13.50 to $750. But Shkreli, who earned the title ‘the most hated man in America,’ is not the only one acquiring drugs currently on the market to raise their price and, in turn, rapidly drive up their stock price.
J. Michael Pearson, the CEO of Valeant Pharmaceuticals has enraged the internet after saying in a recent interview with MSNBC that “his company’s responsibility is to its shareholders.”
“My primary responsibility is to Valeant shareholders,” Pearson said when asked about the possible acquisition of Allergan. “And we are not going to overbid for this asset.”
He later added: “We can do anything we want to do. We will continue to make acquisitions, we will continue to move forward,” Pearson said.
Already this year, according to several media outlets, Valeant has increased the price of 56 of the drugs in its portfolio an average of 66 percent, highlighted by their recent acquisition, Zegerid, which they promptly raised 550 percent. Not only does this have the unfortunate side effect of placing the price of life-saving drugs out of reach for even moderately-insured people, but it has now begun to call into question the sustainability of this rapidly-spreading business model.
Valeant has acquired more than 100 drugs and seen their stock price rise more than 1,000 percent since Pearson was named CEO in 2008. Pearson started working with Valeant Pharmaceuticals as an outside consultant in 2007, took over as CEO the next year.
Both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’ stance against the practice has placed big pharma under tremendous scrutiny.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is planning to issue a subpoena for information on recent price increases from both Pearson and Shkreli.
Correction: This story corrects an Oct. 17, 2016 headline that stated: “Big Pharma CEO: ‘We’re in Business of Shareholder Profit, Not Helping The Sick’.” The headline was wrong. J. Michael Pearson didn’t mention “the sick” during his remarks. What said was that “his company’s responsibility is to its shareholders.” The error has been also corrected in the article content.