In what is being called a fight to the finish between two titans of big pharma for aesthetics domination, all eyes are glued to our screens to watch this pan out. Valeant’s CEO and Chairman, American powerhouse J. Michael (Mike) Pearson, has teamed up with hedge fund billionaire William (Bill) Ackman, founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management. They are like two dogs with a bone as they forge ahead with their plan to take over what is arguably the biggest prize in aesthetics — the company that has turned BOTOX into a household word with over $1.8B US in sales.
Perhaps the greatest challenge ahead is the potential culture clash between two rivals who, by their own admission, see the pharma business from opposite viewpoints.
What do you consider Allergan’s greatest strengths in the market, and where do you think Allergan can do better?
Allergan is a multi-specialty healthcare company focused on discovering, developing and commercializing innovative pharmaceuticals, biologics and medical devices that enable people to live life to its greatest potential — to see more clearly, move more freely, express themselves more fully. Since our company was founded more than 60 years ago, we have remained committed to serving our customers and we continue to work to not only meet, but exceed their expectations by investing in research and development, bringing a steady stream of innovative products to market, building new markets through physician education and training, informing and educating consumers and offering valuable product support services.
We often hear Allergan management talk about their willingness to spend money on R&D and science. Can you elaborate on what you have in the pipeline in the aesthetics arena?
Allergan has a long history of leading the way in science and innovation. We have vigorously invested in research and development to discover and create new treatments to meet the needs of doctors and patients. In 2014, we invested more than a billion dollars in R&D and we expect to invest up to $1.5 billion by 2017. Just in 2013 alone, Allergan secured 180+ product and indication approvals worldwide. In terms of the facial aesthetics category, in late 2013, BOTOX® Cosmetic was approved to temporarily improve the appearance of moderate to severe crow’s feet lines, making it the only FDA-approved treatment option for both moderate to severe crow’s feet lines and glabellar lines in adults. Late last year, the FDA also approved JUVÉDERM VOLUMA® XC, which is the first and only filler FDA approved to instantly add volume to the cheek area. It is an injectable gel that helps to restore contour to the cheek-area and a more youthful profile for up to 2 years with optimal treatment. JUVÉDERM VOLUMA® XC contains our unique VYCROSS™ technology. VOLBELLA and VOLIFT, which contain the same unique technology, are currently approved for use in Europe and other markets, and we hope to bring these products to the US market in the future.
Can you describe the distinctions in the culture of a traditional big pharma player like Allergan, with multiple layers and long-term strategic planning, vs. the lean and mean Valeant model with a handful of key decision makers?
Allergan and Valeant have very different business models. For more than 60 years, Allergan has been successful because we have made it our mission and business model to serve physicians and their patients with innovative new products, customer support and services, and training, as well as creating new markets and providing assistance with access and reimbursement.
What are you hearing from your physician customers and distribution partners about the latest deal on the table from Valeant?
We have received a tremendous amount of support from physician customers, their nurses and office staff members, as well as from patient advocacy groups and medical associations at this time. In more than 600 letters sent to Allergan, these physician customers, patient advocacy groups and medical associations express their appreciation for the Company’s many contributions in the fields of research and development, product innovation, market creation, and physician support and services. All of us at Allergan are deeply touched that our customers have taken the time to write to tell us that our work has mattered to them and their patients, and to publicly share their support and encouragement for our company’s business model and our promising future.