Friday, November 13, 2015

The Invisible Hand Slaps Valeant Pharmaceuticals and the Sequoia Fund

Over the years I've been a staunch critic of seeing the health care "industry" as a commodity that should be governed by market forces. But fairness and honesty compel acknowledgement when the invisible hand acts wisely and supports good ethics.

Today the New York Times reported that two of the five independent directors of the Sequoia Fund resigned in protest over the Fund's decision to increase its already large stake in Valeant Pharmaceuticals, a company whose entirely legal but ethically disgraceful business strategy is to buy drugs and impose huge price increases. When Valeant's business practices hit the front page its stock fell from $260 to $75, and Sequoia's shares fell 22%.

Here's what David Poppe, president of the firm that manages the Sequoia Fund, said about Valeant: "...we thought Valeant was aggressive but stayed within the lines. To say they're immoral is pretty strong."

Sometimes statements that are "pretty strong" are also "pretty true." Let's hope that the lesson the market is sending about exploitative pharmaceutical business practices is widely heard. So far the invisible hand has been dealing out slaps. Next time - the fist!

No comments: