January 10, 2014 — A Massachusetts federal judge has certified a class action lawsuit filed by two Missouri mothers who accuse Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc. of “misrepresenting and concealing” information regarding the effectiveness of two company drugs prescribed to treat depression in pediatric patients. The mothers, who are represented by the law firms of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, PC and Pendley, Baudin & Coffin LLP, claim that Forest marketed Celexa (citalopram) and Lexapro (escitalopram) as clinically effective for use in pediatric patients while concealing evidence to the contrary.
U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton of Massachusetts ruled on January 10, 2014 that the allegations made by Ruth Dunham and Tanya Shippy on behalf of all Missouri consumers similarly situated are viable under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA), which 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.”
The plaintiffs allege 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 campaign, according to the lawsuit, included hiding negative clinical trial data, ghostwriting positive articles for publication in prestigious medical journals, paying doctors to speak about the benefits of both Celexa and Lexapro at conferences, as well as giving lavish gifts to induce doctors to prescribe both drugs to pediatric patients.
Judge Gorton’s ruling is a clear indication that drug companies hiding the results of negative clinical trials can lead to consumer fraud. “Hiding the truth about a drug’s efficacy is not acceptable,” said R. Brent Wisner, class action attorney with Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman. “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.”
About Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman
Based in Los Angeles, Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman is recognized as a preeminent plaintiffs law firm. Recently listed in U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 “Best Law Firms” publication, the firm has represented over 4,000 individuals nationwide in personal injury and wrongful death cases involving dangerous drugs.
Over the past 20 years or more, Baum Hedlund has handled suicide/violence litigation involving antidepressants such as Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft. The firm has also successfully resolved thousands of cases involving selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including several SSRI class actions. Additionally, Baum Hedlund’s work helped bring about the black box warnings now found on most antidepressant labels, designed specifically to warn children and adolescents about the risk of suicide.
Michael L. Baum and R. Brent Wisner of Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman, and Christopher L. Coffin and Nicholas R. Rockforte of Pendley Baudin & Coffin (LLP) are the attorneys who obtained class certification for Plaintiffs Tanya Shippy and Ruth Dunham and on behalf of all similarly situated consumers in the state of Missouri.
The case is In Re: Celexa and Lexapro Marketing and Sales Practices Litigation, case number 1:09-md-02067, before the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
Find out how to join the Celexa / Lexapro class action here.