A federal judge has certified a class-action lawsuit filed by two mothers from Missouri alleging that Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Forest Laboratories, Inc. “misrepresented and concealed” information concerning the effectiveness of two company drugs for the treatment of depression in pediatric patients. The plaintiffs, represented by the law firms Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman and Pendley, Baudin & Coffin LLP, claim that Forest marketed antidepressants Celexa (citalopram) and Lexapro (escitalopram) as effective for use in pediatric patients, even though studies showed evidence to the contrary.
U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton of Massachusetts (presiding over the MDL No. 09-02067-NMG., In Re Celexa and Lexapro Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation) stated in his ruling on January 10, 2014, that the “informed choice” allegations made by Ruth Dunham and Tanya Shippy (on behalf of themselves and all consumers in Missouri), who purchased Celexa and Lexapro on behalf of their children, was a “novel” theory, but viable under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA). The MMPA prohibits “deception, fraud, false pretense, false promise, misrepresentation, unfair practice or the concealment, suppression, or omission of any material fact in connection with the sale or advertisement of any merchandise in trade or commerce.”
According to the Court’s ruling: “The crux of [Plaintiffs’] theory is that Forest deprived consumers of the ability to make an informed decision about whether to purchase or prescribe Celexa or Lexapro for their children by withholding information about the negative efficacy studies and engaging in an aggressive marketing campaign designed to mislead consumers and physicians …”
The Court’s ruling has substantial implications. Drug manufacturers have been reluctant to make the clinical trial results supporting a drug’s efficacy available to consumers and doctors for decades. This ruling signals that hiding negative clinical trial data can give rise to consumer fraud. “This is a significant ruling,” says R. Brent Wisner, a class action attorney with Baum Hedlund. “Hiding the truth about a drug’s efficacy is not acceptable. Parents have a right to make informed decisions about whether to place their children on drugs that expose them to potentially serious side effects. They cannot do that without knowing the facts. This ruling sends a clear message to the pharmaceutical industry that hiding clinical trial data has serious legal implications.”
The case is In Re: Celexa and Lexapro Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, case number 1:09-md-02067 NMG, before the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
This is the first federal class action certified concerning Celexa / Lexapro pediatric use.
About Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman, P.C.
Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman is a recognized preeminent plaintiffs law firm based in Los Angeles, California. U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers® recently listed Baum Hedlund in the 2014 “Best Law Firms” publication.
The firm has successfully represented more than 4,000 individuals across the nation in personal injury and wrongful death cases involving harmful medications.
Baum Hedlund has the longest track-record handling SSRI antidepressant cases, having handled thousands of antidepressant personal injury and wrongful death cases since 1990. Over the past 20 plus years, the firm has handled antidepressant-induced suicide/violence litigation concerning Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft. Baum Hedlund has successfully litigated several class actions involving SSRIs and has successfully resolved thousands of injury cases involving SSRIs. The firm also helped bring about the black box suicidality warnings for children and young adults, now on most antidepressant labels. Baum Hedlund was also the firm that found the internal drug company documents linking SSRIs to cardio birth defects in infants. They currently represent hundreds of families across the nation in cases involving antidepressant-induced birth defects.
Michael L. Baum and R. Brent Wisner of Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman (Los Angeles), and Christopher L. Coffin and Nicholas R. Rockforte of Pendley Baudin & Coffin LLP (Louisiana), are the attorneys who obtained class certification on behalf of Plaintiffs Ruth Dunham and Tanya Shippy, and all consumers in Missouri.
Find out how to join the Celexa / Lexapro class action here.