shares continued their slump Wednesday, hitting a seven-month low after the company received a request from the New York State Attorney General for information concerning off-label clinical trials for its products.
The news is the latest in Eliot Spitzer's ongoing investigation into whether drugmakers are secretly burying negative clinical studies to promote a rosy worldview to investors. Three weeks ago, the Attorney General sued
, alleging the company spiked negative studies about the effect of the antidepressant Paxil on children.
In reaction, Forest said it will fully cooperate with the request, stressing it was not a subpoena, and said it believes it has complied with all applicable laws. But shares of the company fell $1.55, or 2.7%, to $56.10, hitting $54.97 early in the session, a low the shares hadn't seen since Dec. 7.
Forest has been on the defensive lately, coming under increasing scrutiny by the Food and Drug Administration for not publishing data from clinical trials of its depressants, especially with regards to claims that its antidepressants increase the risk of suicide in young patients.
Recently, a pair of European studies -- neither of which was touted by Forest -- seemed to suggest that its antidepressant Celexa had a greater risk for younger patients than was previously thought. To help assuage fears it was hiding something, last Friday Forest sent out a press release reviewing the results of trials on Celexa and Lexapro.
Forest's review of the testing was mixed. Lexapro failed to show improvement in patients when compared to a placebo, but it also did not increase the risk of suicide. Similarly, the company concluded that Celexa did not increase suicide risk, but said it will follow FDA recommendations and add a warning to its label about the possibility of suicide in younger patients.
Ultimately, Celexa has not been given FDA approval as a treatment for depression in those under the age of 18 and doesn't market the drug towards this demographic, so doctors who choose to use it are going off label. According to estimates, less than 10% of Celexa prescriptions are for underage patients.