Forest Laboratories has beaten off a bid by billionaire investor Carl Icahn to change the firm's board.

Preliminary results from Forest's annual meeting indicate that shareholders have elected the company's "entire slate of director nominees by a significant margin". Four alternative directors proposed by Mr Icahn all failed to get a place on the board.

Mr Icahn, who has a stake of around 7%, has been critical of Forest's management, notably since April when the US government threatened the firm's chief executive Howard Solomon with a ban from participating in Medicare and Medicaid, which would effectively have excluded him from working in the pharmaceutical sector. That threat disappeared earlier this month when the Office of the Inspector General, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG) said it has decided not to pursue the exclusion of Mr Solomon from federal healthcare programmes.

Speaking after the voting, Mr Solomon said that "our company is strong and performing well, with one of the deepest and most promising product portfolios in the industry". He added that "this is a time of tremendous opportunity for Forest, and we are confident in our future prospects".

Mr Icahn congratulated Mr Solomon "on your victory" but he looks likely to continue to keep pressuring the board. Saying that "I look forward to our next meeting,”  he noted that “activism, especially in biotech, usually takes longer than you believe it will". He went to give recent examples of Imclone and Genzyme Corp, two companies that were eventually sold after Mr Icahn's involvement, and Biogen Idec.