Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. is close to settling a two-year-old U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission probe into accounting irregularities, the Wall Street Journal said on Tuesday, citing two unidentified people familiar with the case.
Calls to Bristol-Myers and the SEC were not immediately returned.
Last month, the New York-based company agreed to pay $300 million to settle a shareholder class-action lawsuit stemming from a sales scheme that inflated profits, and problems in its development of a cancer drug with ImClone Systems Inc. The company admitted no wrongdoing in that settlement.
The SEC and U.S. Justice Department have been investigating Bristol-Myers’ use of incentives to coax wholesalers to buy more drugs than they needed.
The practice, which took place from 1999 to 2001, allowed the company to artificially boost sales by $2.5 billion, and profit by $900 million, but Bristol-Myers last year restated all earnings for those years.
Last Thursday, Bristol-Myers shares fell to a 15-month low after the company said second-quarter profit fell more than 41 percent from a year earlier to $527 million, or 27 cents per share, and said 2005 and 2006 profit might miss Wall Street forecasts.
Sales rose 6 percent to $5.4 billion, but were hurt by competition from generic versions of its drugs. The company has also been plagued by patent expirations on many of its drugs.