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Former UNC president Tom Ross joins Valeant board

The North Carolina connections among the board of directors of struggling Valeant Pharmaceuticals continue to multiply.

The Canandian drugmaker announced Wednesday that it has appointed former UNC President Tom Ross and Fred Eshelman, founder of Wilmington-based Pharmaceutical Product Development, to be independent directors on its 14-member board.

The chairman of Valeant’s board is Robert Ingram, who is a partner at the Durham venture capital firm Hatteras Venture Partners and also serves as a special adviser to the CEO of British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline. Valeant’s CEO, Michael Pearson, also has local ties.

Pearson and his wife, Christine, are Duke University graduates and Pearson made a $15 million gift to the university’s School of Nursing. The school’s building is to be named in honor of Pearson’s wife.

Valeant has been under intense scrutiny in recent months over the company’s strategy of acquiring and raising the price of drugs and its previous relationship with a specialty pharmacy.

The company’s stock is down 74 percent since early August, and last week Valeant delayed the release of its quarterly earnings.

The company is under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Salix Pharmaceuticals, a Raleigh-based company that Valeant acquired last year, is also under investigation.

Salix was one of two Raleigh companies Valeant bought last year. The other was Sprout Pharmaceuticals. Valeant acquired Sprout after the Food and Drug Administration approved its drug Addyi, the first in the world approved to boost women’s sex drive.

David Bracken: 919-829-4548, @brackendavid

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