Two mothers are seeking class action certification over claims that Forest Laboratories Inc., misled consumers about the efficacy of its antidepressants Celexa and Lexapro for children, arguing that parents would not have purchased the drugs for their children had it not been for the alleged fraud.
Delana Kiossovski and Renee Ramirez said in their complaint that common proof shows that Forest acted with fraudulent intent. “The question to the jury is one that can be resolved using common evidence: would a reasonable parent put his or her child on a psychotropic drug that is no better than a sugar pill but contains significant side effects, i.e., a risk of pediatric suicide,” the plaintiffs’ motion states.
Lexapro is indicated for the acute and maintenance treatment of major depressive disorder in adults and in adolescents ages 12 to 17, and for generalized anxiety disorder in acute treatment of generalized anxiety disorder in adults. It is not approved for children younger than 12.
Celexa is indicated for adults with depression. It is not approved for any indication in children. Both medications carry a black box warning (the Food and Drug Administration’s highest level advisory) that use increases the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults.
Kiossovski and Ramirez argue that the drug company promoted the antidepressants to physicians for the of the off-label use in children, and that once the physician writes a prescription, most consumers are reasonably expected to follow their doctor’s advice and fill the prescription. The complaints allege Forest is responsible for targeting physicians with a fraudulent marketing message designed to induce them to prescribe Lexapro and Celexa off label.
The plaintiffs are asking for a damages class for those who purchased the drugs for someone younger than 18 before March 2009. They are also requesting subclasses of those who bought the drugs for someone younger than 13 before March 2009, as well as those who purchased the medication for someone younger than 18 before March 2008.
In March 2014, Forest agreed to pay between $7.7 million and $10.4 million to settle claims made by a proposed class of parents and third parties in Missouri who purchased Celexa for patients younger than 18 years of age between Jan. 1, 1998, and Dec. 31, 2013, or who purchased Lexapro for a minor patient between Aug. 1, 2002, and Dec. 31, 2013.