Embattled Canadian pharmaceutical company Valeant announced Wednesday its former CFO Howard Schiller will serve as interim chief executive while its CEO is on medical leave due to severe pneumonia.
Schiller takes the reins from Michael Pearson, who "remains in the hospital where he is being treated," the company said in a statement, adding that Pearson's date of return was uncertain.
Valeant's board of directors will be chaired by Robert Ingram, its lead independent director, until Pearson's return, it said.
Schiller, who served as Valeant chief financial officer from December 2011 until June 2015, "has been appointed interim chief executive officer of Valeant, effective immediately," the company said.
Before joining Valeant, Schiller worked at Goldman Sachs for 24 years.
Pearson's illness came after the company endured months of criticism and hits to its share price over its drug pricing and distribution policies.
While rejecting accusations that it engaged in deceptive practices, Valeant in October cut ties with mail-order pharmacy Philidor RX.
Their partnership had seen Philidor aggressively market Valeant's more expensive drugs over cheaper generics preferred by insurers, which caught the attention of US lawmakers and investigators now looking into its pricing.
In December, Valeant announced a drug distribution deal with pharmacy giant Walgreens that will lower prices of many medications by 10 percent in the United States.
Pearson, 56, is the architect of the rapid rise of Valeant, which grew from a small pharmaceutical company to a global giant in the span of ten years mainly due to a growth strategy based on acquisitions.
Markets seemed satisfied with the temporary replacement. Valeant rose 1.90 percent to $143.84 on the Toronto Stock Exchange by 10:30 am (1530 GMT).