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Shares of

Forest Laboratories


slipped Tuesday after the company said a test of an experimental blood pressure drug didn't meet all of the study's goals.

The research report followed by one day Forest's announcement that it was reducing its earnings per share estimate for the current fiscal year to $2.50 from $2.70 due to faster-than-expected government approval of generic versions of Forest's antidepressant Celexa.

Forest provided few details Tuesday on how the test of the blood pressure drug, lercanidipine, didn't meet research goals. Forest licenses the drug from Italy's Recordati. The drug is approved in 92 countries.

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In early trading Tuesday, Forest's shares were off 16 cents, or 0.4%, to $43.94.

Forest received conditional approval from the Food and Drug Administration in August 2002, but the agency asked for additional data. In response, Forest conducted a test involving 60 patients who were given the drug once a day in what Forest described as "an experimental modified release formulation." The study was designed to determine the drug's effectiveness in this new formulation.

Although the test showed that this new formulation "was associated with a clinically relevant reduction in blood pressure," Forest said Tuesday that the study didn't meet all of the criteria established for all of the doses studied.

Forest said it is evaluating "additional alternative extended release formulations," adding that the commercialization of the drug "would accordingly be somewhat delayed."

After markets had closed on Monday, Forest cut its EPS estimate for the fiscal year ending March 31. Forest said the new EPS would be $2.50, below the consensus view of $2.63 from Thomson First Call and below the $2.70 that the company had cited on Oct.18.

Three generic companies received FDA approval on Oct. 28 to begin marketing copycat versions of Celexa. In addition, Forest's generic division, Inwood Laboratories, will begin marketing generic Celexa. The FDA's approval of the generic versions came several months earlier than many analysts had expected.

Forest earned $295.3 million, or 79 cents a share, on revenue of $881.2 million for the three months ended Sept. 30, the second quarter of the company's fiscal year. For the same period last year, Forest earned $184.5 million, or 49 cents a share, on revenue of $625.5 million.