A federal judge has ruled that parents, whose children were prescribed the antidepressants Celexa [citalopram] and/or Lexapro [escitalopram] are entitled to refunds.
Forest Laboratories and its subsidiary Forest Pharmaceuticals, have agreed to shell out up to $10.4 million in refunds.
Back in 2010 Forest pleaded guilty to federal charges that its sales force team illegally marketed Celexa and Lexapro for use in children and teenagers when they knew that both drugs were only approved by the FDA to treat depression in adults. According to the charges, Forest bribed doctors with cash, meals and travel in efforts to persuade doctors to prescribe the drugs to children.
Why aren't we surprised by this anymore?
Once again we are seeing a pharmaceutical company quietly settle matters, once again there is no jail time for any of the executives, once again money is thrown at the problem.
The 2010 charges also allege that Forest covered up the negative results of their pediatric trials.
So they knew their drugs were no better than placebo yet still targeted doctors to prescribe them to kids.
Anyone familiar with the story Hansel and Gretel?
Dr. Greg Mattingly, a psychiatrist in St. Charles, was also named in court documents as one of the country’s top prescribers of Celexa. Evidence shows notes made from a phone call with Mattingly and a Forest sales representative where he agreed to include information about Celexa for children into his talks. Mattingly is alleged to have received more than $107,000 from Forest Pharmaceuticals in meals, travel and speaking fees in 2012 and close to $38,000 in 2013, according to trial documents.
Dr. Brian Barash, a Kansas City psychiatrist and chief medical officer of the Marillac Children’s Psychiatric Treatment Center, was paid “thousands of dollars to give dozens of speeches to Missouri doctors about Celexa,” according to trial docuuments.
Take a good look at the photos above. Both have, it seems, been promoting drugs that not only don't work in children but drugs that are dangerous for children.
Forest has already agreed to pay out $313 million to settle allegations with the government and millions more in dozens of personal injury lawsuits.
- 13-year-old Andrew Tradd of Massachusetts, who died of a brain injury days after he tried to hang himself in 2004, two years after being prescribed Celexa.
- The family of Danielle Henrikson, 15, sued the company after she hanged herself in her Idaho home the same year, weeks after starting the drug.
- Alex Kim of Georgia, hanged himself in 2004 after his dosage of Lexapro was doubled.
More on the settlement agreement here.