Billionaire activist Bill Ackman (pictured) -- whose hedge fund Pershing Square maintains a 9% stake in Valeant Pharmaceuticals (VRX) -- said Wednesday that "a lot is going to change" at the troubled Canadian drugmaker over the next year.
Ackman, who recently joined the board of Valeant along with Pershing Square Vice Chairman Stephen Fraidin, testified before a panel of the Senate Special Committee on Aging Wednesday over allegations that Valeant raised the prices on a handful of drugs to exorbitant levels.
"I texted our board chair while listening to the hearing," Ackman told the Senate panel. "My recommendation is we reduce the prices of those drugs."
Meanwhile, Valeant's departing CEO Michael Pearson apologized to the panel for previously stating his top priority at Valeant was maximizing shareholder returns, instead of chiefly focusing on protecting patients who depend on Valeant's medications.
Ackman and Pearson spoke at the panel, titled "Valeant Pharmaceuticals' Business Model: The Repercussions for Patients and the Health Care System," alongside Valeant's former CFO Howard Schiller.
Ackman also emphasized at the panel that Valeant's new board, as well as new CEO Joseph Papa, will help Valeant turn its performance around. Valeant added that Papa could start working at the helm as soon as Monday.
Shares of Valeant are down 66% this year alone, amid SEC and congressional investigations into the company's accounting and drug-pricing practices, most notably by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's characterization of Valeant's drug pricing as "gouging" patients through "predatory pricing."
Valeant shares have also been pressured this year because of accounting misconduct tied to the drugmaker's former partnership with mail-order pharmacy Philidor, in which Valeant has so far admitted to $58 million in improperly booked sales.
Ongoing investigations into Valeant's accounting have also led to the company's delay in filing its annual 10-K statement with the SEC, which has caused a standoff between Valeant and its creditors as it hopes to avoid technically defaulting on its debt agreements due to breached covenants.