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Valeant Says Chairman Bill Wells Has Resigned

From Associated Press (December 13, 2010December 13, 2010)

NEW YORK -- Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc. said Monday that Chairman Bill Wells resigned from the board to pursue other interests.

The change comes as Valeant deals with setbacks for two of its most advanced drug candidates.

The Canadian drug maker said board member Robert Ingram has been named as the company’s new chairman. Ingram has been on Valeant’s board since 2003. He is a former executive of GlaxoSmithKline PLC, which is Valeant’s partner on an epilepsy drug candidate. Ingram still advises GlaxoSmithKline CEO Andrew Witty.

Wells was the CEO of Biovail Corp., which combined with Valeant in a $1.65 billion deal earlier this year. He had been a director of Biovail since June 2006, and became president and CEO in May 2008. Wells and former interim CEO Douglas Squires presided over a change in strategy at Biovail, which once focused on hard-to-replace generic drugs. The company changed its focus to producing drugs for the central nervous system.

Wells was the permanent replacement for Biovail founder Eugene Melnyk, who resigned in 2007. Melnyk, who also owns the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, left after being accused of accounting fraud along with three other officers, and Biovail made payments to resolve the charges against it. After leaving the company, Melnyk strenuously opposed the shift in strategy and tried to regain control of Biovail through a proxy contest.

Valeant and Biovail said in June that they were going to combine. The company’s kept Valeant’s name, but Biovail’s corporate structure and base of operations in Canada for tax reasons.

In October, Biovail and Alexza Pharmaceuticals Inc. said the Food and Drug Administration did not approve Adusuve Staccato, an inhaled drug they are developing. Adusuve Staccato is designed to treat agitation in patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. The FDA said it was concerned about the drug’s effects on patient’s lungs. The agency also had questions about the manufacturing of the drug.

Earlier this month, the FDA declined to approve ezogabine, the epilepsy drug Valeant is studying with GlaxoSmithKline. After a review that lasted more than a year, the FDA said it needed more information about the drug. The companies said the FDA’s reasons were "non-clinical," and said they planned to respond in early 2011.


Posted: December 2010