The U.S. government has filed suit in federal court in Massachusetts against Forest Laboratories and Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc. on a number of charges, such as awarding kickbacks to doctors and ghostwriting a scholarly journal article reporting the benefits of the companies’ products. The Department of Justice claims that for five years, Forest has illegally marketed Celexa and Lexapro for off-label use in children even though the drugs have been approved only for use by adults. Further, Forest is alleged to have misled doctors by promoting the outcome of a positive study on the use of citalopram in children, while at the same time concealing the results of a corresponding negative study conducted in Europe. In addition, Forest is accused of paying a medical writing firm to ghostwrite a scholarly article on the favorable study that was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in June 2004. Finally, the government also charged that Forest used “illegal” incentives to encourage physicians to prescribe escitalopram and citalopram.

The government’s allegations were originally brought to light in two separate False Claims Act suits filed by whistleblowers, Joseph Piacentile, MD. and Christopher Gobble, a former Forest employee. The federal False Claims Act contains Qui Tam provisions that allow private individuals to file suit against entities engaged in fraud against the government and to share in the government’s recovery.

For the full story, go to Psychiatric Times.