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US: Forest Labs firm paid kickbacks

Associated Press / February 26, 2009
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WASHINGTON - Forest Laboratories Inc. offered kickbacks to doctors for prescribing its antidepressants Celexa and Lexapro and pushed the drugs for unapproved use on children, according to a complaint filed yesterday by federal prosecutors.

The New York-based drug maker offered cash payments, expensive meals, and entertainment to induce doctors and others to prescribe the drugs, the complaint said. It also accused Forest of promoting Celexa for pediatric use, even though a study showed it was no more effective than a placebo for children.

Forest induced doctors with cash payments disguised as grants or consulting fees, expensive meals and entertainment and other things of value, all in violation of federal antikickback laws, according to the complaint.

Forest executive Frank Murdolo said he hasn’t seen the complaint and could not comment on it. But he said it stemmed from a federal investigation that dates back to 2004. The vice president of investor relations said Forest has disclosed this investigation in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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