Forest Laboratories saw a slight reprieve yesterday after a US Court rescheduled the opening arguments for the forthcoming patent challenge to its top-selling Lexapro (escitalopram) antidepressant, after partner Lundbeck was accused of destroying evidence.

The hearing was originally slated to begin on May 9, but has now been pushed back to December 5. The case pits Forest and partner Lundbeck against generic companies Ivax Pharmaceuticals, Cipla and Alphapharm [[08/08/03d]], [[20/04/04d]].

However, following the accusations by Alphapharm, the Court will now launch an investigation into the matter.

Forest has been badly hit of late and earlier this month unveiled a sharp decrease in net income for its fiscal fourth quarter on the back of declining sales, primarily as a result of generic competition to its Celexa (citalopram) antidepressant – the forerunner to Lexapro [[20/04/05e]]. The latter brought in a not-insignificant $399 million dollars during the three-month period, a sum Forest will be keen to protect.