Forest Pharmaceuticals, a Forest Laboratories Inc. unit, has agreed to plead guilty to distributing its Levothroid thyroid drug before it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The company will pay $313 million to the federal government. The charges also involved illegal promotion of Celexa for use in treating children and adolescents suffering from depression. The Forest Pharmaceuticals unit also agreed to settle allegations it caused false claims to be submitted to federal health care programs for Levothroid, Celexa and Lexapro. All told, the company will pay a $150 million criminal fine, will forfeit $14 million, and pay more than $149 million to settle the False Claims Act allegations. U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, located in Boston, said in the statement:
Forest Pharmaceuticals deliberately chose to pursue corporate profits over its obligations to the FDA and the American public. The company knew that it did not have FDA approval to distribute Levothroid.
Forest Laboratories and Forest Pharmaceuticals are Defendants in all but one of our Medicaid fraud lawsuits, where we allege that Forest made false statements to the Medicaid agencies. Contrary to what the CEO of Forest is saying, Forest obviously disregarded these principles of integrity, honesty and ethics when it systematically defrauded our Medicaid agency clients. Furthermore, it appears this tendency to mislead the federal and state governments was a widespread problem within the Forest corporate family. If you need additional information on this subject, contact Clay Barnett, a lawyer in our Consumer Fraud Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Clay.Barnett@beasleyallen.com.
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