Another day, another pharma company fined for misbehavior. This time, it's Forest Pharmaceuticals, which pleaded guilty in November to off-label marketing, obstructing justice and distributing an unapproved drug. The judge in that case has levied a $150 million criminal fine and ordered Forest to forfeit $14 million in assets.
The charges are familiar if you've been following off-label marketing settlements: Forest was accused of distributing its thyroid remedy Levothroid before it was FDA-approved, and for promoting its big-selling antidepressant Celexa for off-label use in children and teens.
The fine is the last piece of a Justice Department settlement totalling more than $313 million. Last fall, Forest agreed to pay more than $149 million in a civil settlement to resolve a whistleblower suit over Levothroid, Celexa and Lexapro, another antidepressant
"Companies bear the same responsibility to comply with the law as do individuals," U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said. "This is particularly so in the pharmaceutical industry where companies have an increased obligation to take actions that will benefit and protect the American public." Given the slew of recent DoJ settlements, Ortiz must get tired of repeating those words.