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Valeant CEO hospitalized with severe pneumonia

The headquarters of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International in Laval, Quebec.
Christinne Muschi | Reuters
The headquarters of Valeant Pharmaceuticals International in Laval, Quebec.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals on Monday said Chairman and CEO J. Michael Pearson will be on medical leave, effective immediately, after being hospitalized on Friday with a "severe case of pneumonia," the company said.

"We are not commenting further on Mike's illness other than he has a severe case of pneumonia and is receiving treatment in the hospital," the company told CNBC in a statement. "Out of respect, we will be honoring his family's request for privacy and will not be commenting further on his condition at this time, nor the expected length of his medical leave."

The company's board of directors has created an Office of the CEO, which will include Robert Chai-Onn, executive vice president and general counsel, Dr. Ari Kellen, executive vice president and company group chairman, and Robert Rosiello, executive vice president and chief financial officer, to serve in an interim capacity.

The board has also created a committee to oversee and support the Office of the CEO

"We wish him a speedy recovery and look forward to him returning to work when he is feeling better," the spokeswoman, Laurie Little, said in a statement.

She declined to provide further details on Pearson's condition, citing privacy concerns, but told Reuters via email that the company plans to "provide further details on his condition as appropriate."

Little did not respond when asked if the disease was life-threatening.

Pearson, 56, joined Valeant as CEO in September 2010 after a 23-year career at McKinsey & Co. and became chairman of the board in 2010.

His illness comes as investors are turning up pressure on the Canadian drugmaker to provide a more detailed plan on how it will grow profits in 2016. Under Pearson's leadership, the company has come under U.S. government scrutiny for acquiring off-patent drugs and drastically hiking the prices.

It also has close ties with Philidor RX Services, a pharmacy that has been criticized for aggressive billing practices. Valeant has cut ties with the company, and it is closing down.

In premarket trading on Monday, shares of Valeant were down more than 7 percent. (Get the latest quote here.)

Valeant has said it plans to rebuild lost business in 2016 through a new distribution agreement with Walgreen's pharmacies. Still, Valeant's price hikes are the subject of investigations by the U.S. Congress and federal prosecutors in New York and Massachusetts.

Pearson's hospitalization was first reported by The New York Times.

CNBC contributed to this report.