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Embattled pharma giant Valeant picks new general counsel

Canadian drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals has appointed Christina Ackermann as its new general counsel as it comes under scrutiny for its business and accounting practices.

Ackermann (pictured) replaces Robert Chai-Onn as the pharma group’s top lawyer, with the latter set to depart after more than a decade at the company.

The switch comes amid a period of regulatory scrutiny, with the US Securities and Exchange Commission probing accounting irregularities and federal prosecutors investigating its relationship with US mail-order pharmacy Philidor over alleged improper booking of revenue.

Valeant currently uses Covington & Burling as it responds to congressional inquiries.

Ackermann has worked in the pharmaceutical industry for the past 14 years and leaves her current role as senior vice president and general counsel at eye care company Alcon Laboratories to join Valeant. She previously held a string of senior roles across Novartis, including stints as head of legal of its general medicine and technical operations arms, and has been associate general counsel at both Bristol-Myers Squibb and Dupont Pharmaceuticals.

Valeant chief executive Joseph Papa said in a statement that Ackermann’s ‘qualifications and track record of dealing directly successfully with complex legal and compliance issues make her an ideal addition to the Valeant team’.

The appointment, which comes as part of a wider shakeup of Valeant’s management, will see Ackermann report directly to Papa. She started her career at Canadian firm Chaiton & Chaiton before going in-house.

Other recent general counsel moves include Sage Group’s appointment of Misys associate GC Vicki Bradin as current general counsel Michael Robinson retires at the end of next month.