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Forest's Lexapro Ghostwriting Budget Was $100K; Emory on the Payroll

Forest Labs budgeted $100,000 for ghostwriting articles about its antidepressant Lexapro. The news came in a copy of Forest's 2004 Lexapro marketing plan, unveiled by the Senate's Special Committee on Aging. The document (which you can download here) says Forest budgeted $100,000, including "honoraria" for authors, for articles that would appear in medical journals, consumer publications, and on the internet (click to enlarge image).

The document will doubtless be of interest to federal prosecutors, who in February sued Forest for allegedly promoting its anti-depressants for pediatric use without FDA approval, and paying kickbacks to doctors to encourage prescriptions. The complaint also alleges that the company hid a negative study that later was used by the FDA in a decision to give both drugs black box warnings.

The document also indicates that Forest expected to put Emory University on its payroll. About $100,000 was budgeted "for scientific discovery to support activity and programs related to junior faculty advancement," the document states:

(Emory has been a focus of undisclosed pharma funding before.)

And Forest wanted 2,000 doctors on its payroll, the Times notes:

Under "Rep Promotional Programs," the document said the company planned to spend $34.7 million to pay 2,000 psychiatrists and primary care doctors to deliver 15,000 marketing lectures to their peers in one year.
That comes out to about $17,350 each.

AstraZeneca, Merck, Wyeth and GlaxoSmithKline have all been accused of funding ghostwriting this year.

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