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Forest Labs to pay more than $313 million to settle Celexa marketing case.

Forest Labs to Pay More Than $313 Million to Settle Celexa Marketing Case. A unit of Forest Laboratories Inc. (New York), the maker of the antidepressant Celexa, agreed last week to pay more than $313 million to settle criminal and civil complaints, including a claim that it had illegally promoted the drug for use in children. The settlement is the latest in a crackdown by the U.S. Justice Department on pharmaceutical companies that have promoted drugs for uses that have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, a practice called "off-label" marketing. The Forest settlement comes two weeks after Allergan Inc. (Irvine CA), the maker of Botox, agreed to pay $600 million to settle claims that it had illegally marketed the drug from 2000 to 2005 for off-label uses including headaches and cerebral palsy in children. The settlements this month, however, pale compared with two last year when Pfizer Inc. (New York) agreed to pay $2.3 billion and Eli Lilly & Co. (Indianapolis IN) agreed to pay $1.4 billion to settle illegal marketing claims.

The office of the United States attorney in Massachusetts led the Forest investigation, which began in 2003 after a whistle-blower sued the company. Among the criminal charges was one that the subsidiary, Forest Pharmaceuticals, marketed Celexa, which was approved only for adult depression, to treat children and adolescents. The government also claimed that, in conjunction with the company's off-label promotion, Forest publicized the positive results of a study on Celexa in adolescents while failing to tell doctors about a similar study that had negative results. "Forest Pharmaceuticals deliberately chose to pursue corporate profits over its obligations to the FDA and the American public," Carmen Ortiz, the United States attorney for the District of Massachusetts, said last Wednesday. Forest shares closed the week up $1.51, or 5%, at $31.25.
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Title Annotation:CORPORATE
Date:Sep 20, 2010
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