Parker Waichman LLP is investigating a class action lawsuit on behalf of those who paid any out-of-pocket money, including in the form of a co-pay, to fill a brand-name (generic not included) prescription for the antidepressants Lexapro and/or Celexa for use by an adolescent or child (under 18 years old at the time).
A unit of Manhattan-based Forest Laboratories, maker of the antidepressant Celexa, agreed back in September 2010 to pay more than $313 million to settle criminal and civil complaints related to the off-label marketing of drugs—the promotion for uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—as well as for paying doctors kickbacks and skewing results of a clinical drug trial for promotional advantage.
Additional Claims: Manipulating Study Results for Promotions, Influencing Prescribing Doctors with Kickbacks
Criminal charges were leveled against the company’s subsidiary, Forest Pharmaceuticals, for its off-label marketing of Celexa for children and adolescents—the drug was approved for adult depression only. The government also claimed that, in conjunction with this off-label promotion, Forest spotlighted only the positive results of a Celexa study regarding adolescents, keeping quiet another study’s negative results.
Federal prosecutors also accused Forest of paying doctors to nudge them to prescribe Celexa and another antidepressant, Lexapro. Remuneration included “cash payments disguised as grants or consulting fees, expensive meals and lavish entertainment, and other valuable goods and services,” the government charged in its civil complaint.
Drug Maker Pleads Guilty and Settles Criminal, Civil Allegations
As part of the criminal settlement, Forest Pharmaceuticals, based in St. Louis, agreed to plead guilty to one felony count of obstructing justice.
The company also agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts, one of which covers the company’s misbranding of Celexa by marketing the antidepressant for use by children from 1998 to 2002.
The criminal settlement called for the company to pay a $150 million fine and to forfeit an additional $14 million in assets. Forest also was to pay more than $88 million to the federal government and more than $60 million to the states to resolve a civil complaint that its actions caused false claims to be submitted to federal health care programs. In addition, two whistleblowers split $14 million from the federal share of the settlement.
Forest has also entered into a five-year corporate integrity agreement, requiring an independent expert to review the company’s compliance with drug marketing regulations.
Legal Help for Those Who Paid for Lexapro, Celexa for Use by Their Child
If you purchased a brand-name prescription of Lexapro and/or Celexa for your child or adolescent (under 18 years of age), you may be eligible for compensation. To find out more about joining a Lexapro/Celexa class action lawsuit, please fill out our online form or contact one of our experienced product liability lawyers today at 1(800)-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).