Feds subpoena Forest Labs in Tudorza Pressair investigation

When Forest Laboratories ($FRX) gets its successor CEO January 1, the newbie's to-do list will include dealing with another Justice Department investigation. In a securities filing, the company disclosed a new subpoena from the feds, requesting documents related to its new lung treatment Tudorza Pressair.

The disclosure is brief; the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York asked for the documents in a subpoena dated May 6. The company says it's cooperating.

Tudorza Pressair is one of the products Forest is counting on to regrow sales after Lexapro's spectacular fall. The drug was approved last July, less than a year ago, and launched in December. In fiscal 2013, ended March 31, the drug brought in sales of $23 million, the company says.

Forest is no stranger to Justice Department investigators. The company was subpoenaed in April 2011 by the U.S. Attorney's office in Massachusetts; prosecutors asked for documents relating to the blood-pressure drugs Benicar, Benicar HCT and Azor. And in 2010, Forest agreed to pay $313 million to wrap up allegations that it marketed the antidepressants Lexapro and Celexa for off-label use and paid kickbacks to doctors to encourage them to prescribe the drugs. The settlement also covered the thyroid drug Levothroid.

The Department of Health and Human Services also tried to go after CEO Howard Solomon himself, moving to exclude him from doing business with federal healthcare programs. Solomon and Forest successfully fought off that attempt.

Of course, Forest isn't alone in falling under the Justice Department microscope. A who's who in the drug business has settled marketing allegations with the feds, some more than once, and investigators continue to dig into pharma marketing. Among the more recently subpoenaed are Allergan ($AGN) and Merck ($MRK).

- read the Reuters story

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