Valeant Pharmaceuticals Still Under Fire (Or On Fire?)

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Valeant Pharmaceuticals just can’t catch a break. The company’s stock declined another 6% today to $24.84 per share as the bad headlines just keep piling on. In fact, Valeant shares touch a new 52-week low of $23.55 during regular trading hours today.

Activist investor Bill Ackman has put in a valiant effort to right the ship, and he said in the first quarter letter for his firm Pershing Square Capital Management that they have made “material progress at Valeant.” Indeed, with former CEO Michael Pearson out and former Perrigo CEO Joe Papa now at the helm, he has succeeded in making changes, but is he too late?

Valeant Pharmaceuticals’ debt in focus

In a post on, “Dr. Fly” noted that Valeant has $30 billion in debt, giving it a debt to equity ratio of more than three times. He also noted that we’ve reached the point where the big news surrounding the company is that its stock is diving, adding that when the news is that a stock is diving and not some other piece of information that is causing the stock to dive it signals a death spiral.

He warns that Valeant Pharmaceuticals could end up like so many of the other companies that have entered death spirals of their own and lose its ability to refinance all of its debt.

Hospitals target Valeant

Indeed, it seems the hits just keep coming. Hospitals are now coming after the drug company for not putting into effect the promised 30% price decrease on drugs for certain heart problems, reports Market Exclusive. Valeant Pharmaceuticals told Congress a while ago that it would reduce prices on some drugs to deal with the mounting pressure being applied by various parties for its massive price increases over the years.

Among the drugs the company might cut prices on are Nitropress and Isuprel, both of which saw significant price increases last year. Just reducing prices for these two drugs alone would save U.S. hospitals millions of dollars each year as facilities like Cleveland Clinic known as the top heart hospital in the nation, spent $5.3 million on them last year.

The lack of any price cuts put Papa in the hot seat less than two weeks after he took the helm at the embattled company, and he told a Senate hearing last week that he would look into the issue. Because there’s been no word, Sen. Susan Collins called on Bill Ackman to try to make headway on it.

Valeant claims it is offering some discounts

Last week Valeant Pharmaceuticals said it offers 30% discounts on some drugs through MedAssets and Premier, but according to Market Exclusive, Senate hearings have revealed some gaps. Also Premier has raised some red flags about these “discounts,” saying that some are so small that they don’t make a difference and explaining that the drug maker has made it too difficult for most hospitals to receive the discounts.

Only high-volume purchases qualify for discounts, which means that mid-sized hospitals are very unlikely to receive the full 30% discount and small hospitals are unlikely to receive much of a discount at all, if any.

Emails weigh on Valeant’s stock price

Valeant Pharmaceuticals is probably also being affected by the late Friday night email dump that came courtesy the Senate. While “Dr. Fly” used the term “death spiral,” it’s a term that also appeared in one of the emails dumped by the Senate that was reviewed by ValueWalk. Ackman emailed Pearson in October to warn him that the company was at risk of entering a death spiral at that time, showing just how long the writing has been on the wall.

Interestingly, Ackman also spent more than one emailing urging Valeant executives to put out more press releases.

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