From Valeant's point of view though, Allergan was the "perfect strategic combination." After all, its strengths, like Valeant's, were in dermatology and aesthetics, and there were synergies in ophthalmology and emerging markets. Valeant also touted the success of its Bausch & Lomb acquisition the year earlier, noting it was able to wring even more cost-cutting out of the eye-care giant than its previous private equity holders had.
As that deal failed, however, Valeant looked for other ones. "Valeant marched on undeterred, paying up big for Salix," wrote Andrew Left of Citron Research Group, who also sounded off on Valeant's reliance on specialty pharma company Philidor for sales in a series of pieces that helped fuel the stock's sharp decline. Valeant then also bought two drugs from Marathon Pharmaceuticals, and as Left put it, "a group of increasingly poor quality assets (Dendreon and Sprout), doubled its debt load, and executed an increasingly objectionable set of extreme drug price jacks."
Seattle-based Dendreon filed for bankruptcy protection after its prostate cancer drug went over poorly with the public as competitors quickly picked up market share. Valeant paid $415 million for it and was reportedly the only bidder. Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which Valeant bought for about $1 billion, is best known for offering Addyi, or "female Viagra."
It was the steep price hikes on the two Marathon heart drugs, though, Isuprel and Nitropress, that saw Valeant really begin to unravel. The move into a field much different and with bigger stakes than say, its Jublia toe-fungal treatment drew the ire of cardiologists and by late April, front-page attention from The Wall Street Journal.
"On Feb. 10," the Journal's opening sentence read, Valeant "bought the rights to a pair of life-saving heart drugs. The same day, their list prices rose by 525% and 212%."
Why? "The extreme price hikes on these two drugs were the only reason Valeant beat" Wall Street's earnings estimates in its first quarter of 2015, Left conjectured.
In any case, the move intensified public acrimony over spiraling drug prices, drew ire from presidential candidates, particularly Hillary Clinton, and has made Valeant the subject of a congressional probe. Shares of the company were down more than 90 percent at one point from their peak. Now, Valeant is dealing with restated financials, the departure of its CEO, a heavy debt load left from its acquisition spree, and the possibility of defaulting on its bonds if it doesn't meet filing deadlines.