Johnson & Johnson’s Scios unit says it has received a subpoena from the attorney’s office in Boston requesting documents relating to the sale and marketing of the heart failure drug, Natrecor (nesiritide).

A brief statement from the company gave little away, although it confirmed that it was cooperating with the subpoena.

J&J acquired Natrecor as part of its $2.4 billion dollar purchase of Scios in 2003 [[11/02/03e]], and the drug had US sales of $390 million last year. The drug’s label was recently updated to include mortality data from a range of comparative clinical trials, following questions raised amongst the medical community, and published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, that it may be linked to an increased risk of death [[26/04/05b]]. A US Food and Drug Administration advisory panel last month recommended that Natrecor only be used to treat the sickest patients until new clinical trials can prove the drug’s safety [[15/06/05a]].

- Meanwhile, GlaxoSmithKline is returning the European rights to Natrecor – where it is known as Noratak – to J&J’s Janssen-Cilag unit.

The financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.