Justice eyes marketing at J&J, Forest

It looks as if yet another U.S. drug-marketing investigation is about to be settled. As Dow Jones reports, Forest Laboratories has reached a tentative deal with the feds, which would settle civil allegations that it mismarketed antidepressants and a thyroid drug. But the deal wouldn't cover the government's "ongoing investigation into potential criminal law violations." So Forest isn't exactly out of the woods yet.

Here's the deal: In a regulatory filing, Forest disclosed that the civil settlement would be covered by the $170 million it set aside in April. The settled claims include allegations that the drugmaker improperly marketed antidepressant meds Celexa and Lexapro--two of its biggest-selling drugs--and the thyroid remedy Levothroid. 

The feds have been particularly active lately, negotiating civil and even criminal penalties with a variety of drugmakers. Indeed, the government seems more willing these days to pursue criminal claims, rather than settling for civil penalties alone. It's gotten to the point that SEC filings for almost any major drugmaker includes references to subpoenas from one U.S. attorney or another.

Or if you're Johnson & Johnson, you disclose a laundry list of subpoenas from the feds on both coasts, plus grand jury summons, related primarily to the marketing of antipsychotic Risperdal, as well as the seizure drug Topamax and congestive heart failure remedy Natrecor. As In Vivo recounts today, J&J was mentioned in a press release about last week's Justice Department deal with Omnicare, and recent SEC filings detail the many investigations the company is now dealing with. Whether the probes spawn civil and/or criminal settlements remains to be seen.

- get the Dow Jones news
- read the article at In Vivo
- read the Pharmalot post

ALSO: Derek Lowe at In the Pipeline makes a point about the recent spate of off-label marketing settlements: How can pharma get any respect if marketing allegations keep hitting the news? Report