Justice News

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 20, 2013
The Department of Justice Files Suit Against Louisiana Pharmaceutical Company for Distributing Unapproved and Misbranded Prescription and Over-the-counter Drugs

Acting Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery announced today that the Department of Justice, on behalf of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana against Sage Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Sage), its president Dr. Jivn-Ren Chen, and its Director of Corporate Quality, Charles L. Thomas, all of Shreveport, Louisiana.  According to the Complaint, the defendants violated the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) by manufacturing and distributing unapproved and misbranded drug products.  Under the FDCA, before a company can sell a new drug product to consumers, it must submit and receive approval of a new drug application from the FDA.  The purpose of this approval process is to ensure that drugs manufactured and distributed to consumers are safe and effective for their intended uses.  Furthermore, the FDA requires all drug labeling to have adequate directions for use. 

“Today’s action furthers the FDA’s mission of ensuring that all drugs sold to the public are safe and effective, and those companies that undermine this mission will be held accountable,” said Stuart Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division.

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana Stephanie A. Finley said, “This lawsuit demonstrates that this office will make every effort to protect public health by filing enforcement actions against companies that are identified as violating federal law.” 

This is the second injunctive case that the government has brought against Sage alleging the distribution of unapproved new drugs.  In 2000, the government obtained an injunction against the company banning the manufacture and distribution of two unapproved new drugs.  Since that time, FDA inspections revealed that defendants continue to manufacture and distribute other drug products—including prescription pain relievers, over-the-counter (OTC) cough and cold remedies, and OTC wound cleansers—without first obtaining the requisite FDA approvals.  As a result, the defendants’ products are unapproved new drugs and misbranded drugs under the FDCA, and potentially unsafe and ineffective. 

Despite numerous warnings from FDA, the defendants have failed to bring their operations into compliance with the law. The Justice Department will seek a permanent injunction requiring the defendants to cease all receiving, processing, manufacturing, preparing, packaging, labeling, holding, and distributing activities until they comply with applicable FDA regulations.  

 The FDA referred this matter to the Department of Justice.  The Consumer Protection Branch of the Justice Department’s Civil Division together with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana brought this case on behalf of the United States. 

13-695