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Allergan Defeats Family’s Appeal in Lexapro Teen Suicide Case

Feb. 12, 2020, 2:51 PM

Allergan Inc.'s packaging for its antidepressant Lexapro adequately warned about the risk of suicide, the Ninth Circuit said in dismissing the appeal of a family who says the drug led to their teenage daughter’s death.

The plaintiffs failed to adequately plead a consumer deception claim, the court said. They alleged the drugmaker marketed Lexapro without providing information about the suicidality risks the drug poses when prescribed to adolescents.

But the drug’s packaging contained clear warning labels about a heightened risk of suicidality for adolescents, as mandated by federal law, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit said in an unpublished opinion.

The family also alleged Allergan engaged in fraudulent business practices under California’s Unfair Competition Law by disseminating false advertisements in newspapers and other publications, and by making false public statements.

That claim lacked the factual detail required to meet the heightened pleading standards for fraud claims, the Ninth Circuit said.

The plaintiffs didn’t identify the allegedly misleading content of the ads or public statements, didn’t allege when or where such statements were made, and didn’t offer reasons why they were fraudulent, the appeals court said.

The plaintiffs had amended their complaint twice already, and were properly denied leave to amend again, the appeals court said.

Judges Richard R. Clifton and Kenneth K. Lee, and Judge Frederic Block of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, sitting by designation, served on the panel.

The Law Office of Michael Traylor represented Patton. Gordon & Rees LLP and Ulmer & Berne LLP represented Allergan.

The case is Patton v. Forest Labs., Inc., 9th Cir., No. 18-56336, unpublished 2/11/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Steinberg in Washington at jsteinberg@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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