Drug Company Caught Bribing Docs with Cardinals Tickets
On Wednesday, as reported by the New York Times, Forest -- and their St. Louis-based subsidiary, Forest Pharmaceuticals -- agreed to pay a $313 million settlement in the face of allegations that they illegally promoted use of the antidepressant Celexa by children, among other misdeeds.
Celexa isn't approved by the Food and Drug Administration for kids to use. But, the action against them claims, the company encouraged doctors to prescribe it anyway, in a not-uncommon and not-illegal practice known as off-label use.
The company promoted a study that said Celexa was safe and effective for young users, and didn't tell doctors about a similar study that found it wasn't effective.
And doctors who prescribed a lot of Celexa to kids were rewarded handsomely by Forest: cash for "consulting," fancy French dinners, fishing trips and Cardinals tickets.
In the early 90s, Forest had also manufactured and pushed out an unapproved thyroid drug, Levothroid, and didn't tell Medicare and Medicaid that it was unapproved, so they unwittingly submitted claims for the drug.
The company plead guilty to obstruction of justice, and part of the settlement will be split between two whistleblowers. No word on whether they plan to use the money to take in a Redbirds game.