J&J Gets U.S. Subpoenas on Sales of Three Drugs

Johnson & Johnsonon Monday said it received three subpoenas from U.S. attorneys related to sales and marketing of three of its prescription drugs.

The drugmaker said the subpoenas, from the U.S. Attorneys in Philadelphia, Boston and San Francisco, relate to previously disclosed probes over the company's oversight of three of its subsidiaries.

J&J said it would cooperate with the government over the matter, but would not comment further.

The subpoenas relate to so-called off-label marketing of drugs -- the promotion of medications for uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Doctors are allowed to prescribe drugs for unapproved uses, but drugmakers can't hawk their products for such use.

In the company's annual report filed in February with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the company listed at least one subpoena each received related to the three drugs.

The drugs being investigated are Risperdal, sold by J&J unit Janssen; Topamax, sold by unit Ortho-McNeil; and Natrecor, sold by its Scios subsidiary.

Risperdal is an antipsychotic drug, Topamax, an anti-seizure medication, and Natrecor is a heart failure drug.

Marketing of Natrecor has been the most controversial of the three, and the subject of debate in medical journals, after a study found an increased risk of death in patients taking the drug, when compared to a standard therapy.