Feds investigating Silver Spring pharmaceutical company’s marketing practices -- Gazette.Net


This story was updated at 6 p.m. on Dec. 9, 2013.

Silver Spring biotech United Therapeutics Corp. has received a federal subpoena related to a U.S. Justice Department investigation of the company’s marketing practices and is cooperating with the investigation, company executives said in a news release on Monday.

“Because this is a pending investigation, we have no comment beyond what was included in the press release,” said Andrew Fisher, a United Therapeutics spokesman.

The subpoena was received from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General in connection with the Justice Department investigation, company executives said.

Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Baltimore, said on Monday that she could neither confirm nor deny an investigation.

The subpoena requested documents on three United Therapeutics products that treat pulmonary arterial hypertension — the Remodulin injection, Tyvaso inhalation solution and Adcirca tablets — including about their marketing practices. Those are the company’s three main revenue makers, comprising 99 percent of the $302.2 million United Therapeutics made last quarter.

United is the biggest player in the market to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension, a disease that can cause heart failure, analyst Todd Campbell said in a report last month for investment information business Motley Fool. The company’s “ability to make big money treating PAH” has attracted competition from larger drugmakers, including Gilead Sciences, Bayer and Actelion, he said.

United’s revenue in the first nine months this year increased by 23 percent from the same period in 2012 to $828 million, although net income declined by 7 percent to $204.9 million. It had 623 employees as of February, about 80 more from the previous year, according to its annual report, with other offices in North Carolina, the District, Florida, London and Germany.

The stock price of United was down 0.6 percent on Monday to $90.46. The stock has declined since peaking at more than $95 on Dec. 3 after rising from $59.64 on April 9.

The company is working on plans for a new headquarters in downtown Silver Spring that would include a “net zero” building capable of producing its own energy. The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission has approved preliminary plans, and United Therapeutics hopes to start the construction process in 2015, Fisher said.