Biovail faces U.S. grand jury probe on Cardizem

Fri Feb 1, 2008 2:02pm EST
 
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By Scott Anderson

TORONTO (Reuters) - Biovail Corp BVF.TO BVF.N said on Friday it is being investigated by a U.S. federal grand jury in Boston in connection with the 2003 commercial launch of its Cardizem LA heart drug, and analysts speculated the probe might delve into whether physicians were paid to prescribe the treatment.

The company would not elaborate on the exact nature of the investigation, and officials in Boston would not comment.

"We're not confirming or denying a grand jury investigation," said Christina Diiorio-Sterling, a spokeswoman at the United States Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts.

Biovail's statement on the probe sent its shares down 54 Canadian cents, or 3.9 percent, to C$13.17 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Friday on double its average volume.

The company, Canada's biggest publicly traded drugmaker, said in a release that it has been asked to provide evidence on the Cardizem LA launch and "intends to do so as soon as practicable."

Biovail said it would not make any further comment on the issue on the advice of its lawyers.

"This is an extension of an old investigation moving to the next step," said John Maletic, an analyst at Scotia Capital. "It is no different from the investigation that is being taken by the (Securities and Exchange Commission)."

In 2003, U.S. officials had sought information from Biovail related to promotion and marketing surrounding the launch of Cardizem LA and a related clinical program.   Continued...