Justice subpoenas Novo in diabetes marketing probe

Danish diabetes specialist Novo Nordisk is the latest drugmaker to be subpoenaed by the Justice Department. The company said it received a request for documents from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Massachusetts related to a probe of possible criminal violations in marketing and promotions for Novolog and Levemir and for its newest diabetes med Victoza.

Novo said it was cooperating with the Justice Department investigation but volunteered little else, saying that it can't predict how long the probe might take, nor what the possible outcome and consequences might be.

Given the varied experiences of other drugmakers investigated for marketing violations, that's reasonable. After all, marketing settlements have ranged from less than $100 million (Johnson & Johnson)  to $2.3 billion (Pfizer) over the past couple of years, with amounts all over the spectrum in between.

Think $520 million in AstraZeneca's Seroquel probe, $700 million in Allergan's Botox marketing settlement, and $1.7 billion in Eli Lilly's Zyprexa deal, to name a few. Of course, we don't know for certain whether Novo will end up paying at all. Stay tuned.

- get the release from Novo
- see the Reuters news