New marketing probe for Actelion's Tracleer

In further proof that U.S. authorities are determined to continue their drug-marketing crackdown, Actelion disclosed that it's been subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California. The feds want access to documents detailing marketing practices for Actelion's blockbuster heart drug Tracleer.

Actelion, based in Switzerland, says it doesn't have any further information on why the U.S. Attorney's Office wants the documents. But as Kepler Capital Markets analyst Tero Weckroth points out--and as anyone who's following pharma marketing knows--many drugmakers have marketing probes going on right now. "But what makes this different is the fact that Tracleer is the only big product in Actelion's sales split," Weckroth told Reuters. "[I]t represented 90 percent of sales in 2009."

Just last week, Forest Laboratories said it had settled a marketing probe with the Justice Department, agreeing to pay $313 million to resolve criminal and civil claims. That deal came hard on the heels of a $600 million Botox-marketing settlement with Allergan.

- read the Reuters story

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