Howard Solomon, 94, Dies; His Business Success Had a Personal Connection

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After 1 of his sons fell into a heavy depression, helium helped him recover. He aboriginal licensed an antidepressant that was a boon to his pharmaceutical company.

Howard Solomon and his lad   Andrew successful  “Far From the Tree,” a 2017 documentary based connected  a publication  by Andrew Solomon.
Credit...Sundance Selects

Richard Sandomir

Jan. 14, 2022, 6:13 p.m. ET

Howard Solomon was gathering the pharmaceutical institution Forest Laboratories, not by manufacturing drugs but by licensing them. In his hunt for deals successful the United States and Europe, helium learned astir citalopram, a Danish antidepressant. He did not licence it, though, believing the U.S. marketplace was saturated with drugs to dainty depression.

Then, successful 1994, a household situation intervened: His older son, Andrew, a writer, had fallen into a heavy depression. Mr. Solomon moved Andrew into his flat connected the Upper West Side of Manhattan and took weeks disconnected from enactment to instrumentality attraction of him; helium adjacent chopped his food. He talked to experts astir pharmaceuticals that mightiness assistance Andrew. And helium accompanied him connected a circuit to beforehand his novel, “A Stone Boat.”

“My begetter was similar a reef that took the convulsive waves of a frightening satellite and broke them down into gentle, manageable undulations earlier they reached the formation wherever I stood,” Andrew Solomon said successful an email.

After 2 types of antidepressants were incapable to assistance Andrew, a 3rd did. His acquisition persuaded his begetter to marque the woody a fewer years aboriginal for citalopram, which, nether the sanction Celexa, became a billion-dollar cause for Forest Labs successful the people of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, on with Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil.

Howard Solomon died connected Jan. 8 astatine his location successful Bedford Hills, N.Y. He was 94. Andrew Solomon confirmed the death.

When Howard Solomon introduced Celexa to the Forest Labs income unit successful 1998, helium work from the manuscript of Andrew’s publication “The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression.”

“I volition beryllium connected medicine for a agelong time,” helium work aloud. “Every greeting and each night, I look astatine the pills successful my hand, and sometimes they look similar penning successful my hand, hieroglyphics saying that the aboriginal whitethorn beryllium each close and that I beryllium it to myself to unrecorded connected and see.”

“The Noonday Demon” was published successful 2001. In its dedication, Andrew Solomon wrote, “For my father, who gave maine beingness not once, but twice.” It went connected to triumph the National Book Award for nonfiction.


Credit...via Andrew Solomon

Howard Solomon was calved connected Aug. 12, 1927, successful the Bronx. His father, David, a Romanian immigrant, made neckties retired of formal remnants. His mother, Faye (Gussow) Solomon, worked with her husband.

After serving successful the Army successful Hawaii, Howard majored successful past astatine the City College of New York and received a bachelor’s grade successful 1949. He graduated from Yale Law School 3 years aboriginal and worked for assorted instrumentality firms earlier starting his ain successful the aboriginal 1960s, specializing successful firm law; on the way, helium joined the Forest Labs committee and became the company’s extracurricular counsel.

He was appointed president and main enforcement successful 1977 aft the company’s chairman, Hans Lowey, and 3 different executives were accused of inflating profits. He divested the institution of divisions that made candy and vitamins and adopted a strategy of licensing pharmaceuticals and selling them aggressively.

Forest Labs was transformed by licensing Celexa from H. Lundbeck, the Danish institution that developed it. But Lundbeck’s main executive, Erik Sprunk-Jansen, was initially reluctant to talk to Mr. Solomon due to the fact that licensing deals with immoderate different U.S. companies had unraveled.

“Howard flew to Denmark to conscionable with him,” Phil Satow, a erstwhile enforcement vice president of Forest Labs, said successful a telephone interview. “Both were lovers of ballet, which became the communal chord betwixt them, and they developed a beardown relationship.”

Celexa's income grew quickly, peaking astatine astir $1.5 cardinal successful 2003. Forest Labs past licensed Lexapro, an upgraded mentation of Celexa, which archetypal reached $2 cardinal successful income successful 2007.

But the occurrence of Celexa had a downside. In 2010, Forest Labs paid $313 cardinal to settle transgression and civilian complaints that a subsidiary, Forest Pharmaceuticals, had illegally promoted the cause to children and adolescents (it had been approved lone for big depression) and had paid doctors to induce them to prescribe Celexa and Lexapro.

“Forest Pharmaceuticals deliberately chose to prosecute firm profits implicit its obligations to the F.D.A. and the American public,” Carmen Ortiz, the U.S. lawyer for Massachusetts, said erstwhile the colony was announced.

The institution denied the allegations. In a connection astatine the time, Mr. Solomon said, “We stay dedicated to ensuring that we run successful afloat compliance with each laws and regulations.”

In 2011, Forest Labs won a proxy fight against the shareholder activistic Carl C. Icahn, who had argued that the institution had, among different things, mislaid billions of dollars of shareholder worth implicit the erstwhile decade. Mr. Icahn continued to prosecute Forest Labs with a 2nd proxy combat successful 2012, which ended with 1 of his nominees elected to the company’s board.

In a missive to Mr. Icahn during that fight, Mr. Solomon wrote: “Your sermon frankincense acold has shown a striking deficiency of strategical ideas. Instead, it has been replete with chaotic and baseless accusations, innuendo and distortion of facts.”

Still, astatine immoderate point, Mr. Solomon reached retired to Mr. Icahn, and they had a bid of dinners.

“We got friendly,” Mr. Icahn said successful a telephone interview. “I thought helium was a bully gentleman, a courtly guy.” He added: “I didn’t hold with the mode helium ran the concern necessarily, but helium was a bully feline who was thrilled with the outcome. He made a batch of money.”

In 2013, Mr. Solomon announced his status arsenic main enforcement and was replaced by Brent Saunders, an enforcement affable with Mr. Icahn. Then, successful aboriginal 2014, Actavis (now Allergan) paid $25 cardinal to get Forest Labs. Mr. Solomon, inactive the chairman, near aft the acquisition and formed a household concern steadfast with his younger son, David, who had been a Forest Labs executive.

In summation to his sons, Mr. Solomon is survived by his wife, Sarah Billinghurst Solomon, a erstwhile adjunct wide manager of creator affairs astatine the Metropolitan Opera, and 5 grandchildren. His archetypal wife, Carolyn (Bower) Solomon, died successful 1991.

Mr. Solomon had extended philanthropic interests, particularly opera. As a teen helium paid for soft lessons astatine the Manhattan School of Music by selling librettos to patrons of the aged Metropolitan Opera connected 39th Street and Broadway. He aboriginal became president of the Met’s concern committee, president of New York City Ballet and a committee subordinate of Lincoln Center.

His tendency to enactment into his 80s was, helium said, inspired by the illustration of Giuseppe Verdi.

“Growing up, he’d speech astir Verdi penning ‘Falstaff’ successful his 80s,” Andrew Solomon said. “‘Imagine that,’ he’d say, ‘in his 80s, helium wrote immoderate of the top euphony ever written.’ That was the way helium hoped to follow.”

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