August 9th, 2011

Merck Gets Subpoena Related to Drug Marketing

The Wall Street Journal

The Justice Department has issued a subpoena to Merck & Co. as part of a criminal investigation into the marketing of certain drugs, Merck said Monday.

The drugs are Temodar, which treats brain tumors; hepatitis C treatment PegIntron; and Intron A, which treats certain cancers and other conditions.

The Justice Department is seeking information about the marketing and selling activities for these drugs from 2004 to the present, Merck said. During most of that period, the drugs were marketed by Schering-Plough, which Merck acquired in 2009.

Merck of Whitehouse Station, N.J., disclosed the subpoena in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday, saying it was part of a “federal health-care investigation under criminal statutes.”

Merck spokesman Ron Rogers said the company is cooperating with the probe, but couldn’t provide further comment.

Temodar sales totaled $481 million for the first six months of 2011, while PegIntron generated $319 million and Intron A had $96 million in sales.

The Justice Department has previously investigated Merck and other major drug makers for various health-care fraud allegations in recent years, including the alleged promotion of certain drugs for unauthorized uses.

Last year, Merck set aside $950 million for the impending settlement of a federal probe of Merck’s research, marketing and selling activities surrounding the once-popular Vioxx pain drug, which Merck withdrew from the market in 2004 after it was linked to higher risk of heart attacks and strokes. A final settlement hasn’t yet been publicly announced.

Separately, Merck disclosed Monday that the Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency are pursuing civil penalties of more than $2 million against Merck for alleged violations of environmental regulations at Merck’s West Point, Pa., and Riverside, Pa., facilities. The action results from the EPA’s inspection of these sites in 2006, and Merck’s subsequent submission of information to the EPA.

Merck said it believes it has meritorious defenses against the allegations.

Also, Merck said it agreed to pay a $260,000 fine and sign a consent decree to resolve alleged environmental violations at its Las Piedras, Puerto Rico, facility, in connection with an EPA inspection in 2008. The allegations were related to the site’s leak-detection and repair program.

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904007304576496223625941938.html

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