Preemption Update: Celexa and Lexapro Plaintiffs Enjoy Small Victory

On July 24, 2008, the Eastern District Court of Missouri rejected yet another drug manufacturer’s attempt to jettison lawsuits based on preemption. In In re: Celexa and Lexapro Prod. Liab. Litig., 4:06-md-01736 (RWS), a Multidistrict Litigation with approximately 42 cases alleging suicidal injuries caused by either Celexa or Lexapro, the defendants, Forest Laboratories, Inc. and Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc. moved to dismiss 22 of the cases on conflict preemption grounds. The cases in question all involved plaintiffs or decedents who were over the age of 24 at the time of their suicidal event or their suicide.

In its motion, filed on July 18, 2008, Forest not surprisingly insisted that it was “prevented” from issuing a stronger warning for Celexa and Lexapro concerning suicidality in adults over the age of 24. As support, Forest pointed to the content of the drugs’ black box warning, which advises of the link between antidepressants and suicide only with respect to children, adolescents, and young adults.

In response, our law firm, Pogust Braslow & Millrood, acting as lead counsel on behalf of all Plaintiffs in the MDL, immediately filed a request that the court grant an extension of time to respond to the motion, pending discovery on Forest’s claim of preemption. In an order dated July 24, 2008, the court agreed with Plaintiffs and denied the motion, without prejudice, pending discovery. In re: Celexa and Lexapro Prod. Liab. Litig., MDL 1736, Order dated July 24, 2008.