Forest charged with kickbacks, off-label antics

Forest Laboratories joins the perp walk. In the latest of a series of drug-marketing prosecutions, the feds are charging Forest with offering kickbacks to doctors for prescribing Celexa and Lexapro, and with marketing the antidepressants off-label for use in children.

The Associated Press details the allegations: Forest allegedly bribed doctors and other prescribers with cash, expensive meals and entertainment. Meanwhile, the company spent five years pushing Celexa for pediatric use even though a study had shown it was no more effective in kids than a sugar pill. The difference: Children using the drug attempted suicide or reported suicidal thoughts more often than those using placebo, the suit says.

By failing to disclose that study, the government's complaint states, Forest misled doctors and consumers. In promoting the antidepressants for kids, Forest cited a different study that found a positive effect, the complaint states.

Forest officials wouldn't comment on the complaint, but said that the investigation had been disclosed in the company's SEC filings. The investigation dates back to 2004, VP of investor relations Frank Murdolo told the AP. "It's not new as far as a disclosure issue to the company," he said.

- view the DOJ release
- see what Forest Labs had to say
- read the AP story
- check out the article in the Wall Street Journal