Feds target Forest again with Justice subpoena

Forest Laboratories says it has received a subpoena from the Justice Department seeking documents related to three of its blood pressure drugs, including Benicar and Azor. No details yet about the subpoena, which came from the U.S. Attorney for the Massachusetts District, but the company says it is cooperating. The company also noted that Benicar was co-marketed with Daiichi Sankyo from 2002 to 2008.

It's not Forest's first run-in with the Justice Department. The company settled a federal probe last year for $313 million, resolving allegations that it had marketed its antidepressants Celexa and Lexapro for off-label use and paid kickbacks to doctors. Its subsidiary Forest Pharmaceuticals also agreed to plead guilty to a felony obstruction of justice charge, as well as two misdemeanors related to selling an unapproved drug, its thyroid remedy Levothroid.

But that settlement wasn't the last Forest would hear of the allegations. The Department of Health and Human Services has now moved to exclude CEO Howard Solomon from the pharma industry. The department would bar Solomon from serving as a drug company executive, basically giving him the choice between stepping down as Forest's CEO or allowing his company to lose business from the U.S. government, including Medicare and Medicaid.

Solomon and Forest are fighting the exclusion attempt, saying that he was never accused of wrongdoing in connection with the Justice settlement. HHS gave him 30 days to respond to its exclusion move.

- see the release from Forest
- read the Dow Jones story
- get more from Reuters

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