First generic version of the antidepressant Lexapro approved by FDA

The first generic version of Lexapro, one of the most widely prescribed antidepressants, with more than $2 billion (Ђ1.5 billion) in sales last year, received U.S. government approval Monday.

Ivax Corp, part of Israel's Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., becomes the first company cleared to make a generic version of the prescription drug, according to the Web site of the Food and Drug Administration. The agency approved 5, 10 and 20 milligram doses of the drug, also called escitalopram oxalate, for the treatment of major depression.

Lexapro, the brand-name version of the drug, is made by Forest Laboratories Inc.

In 2005, Lexapro was the No. 2 antidepressant in the United States, behind Zoloft, with 29.6 million prescriptions filled, according to IMS Health, a prescription information provider. Lexapro's U.S. sales last year were $2.1 billion (Ђ1.65 billion), reports AP.

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