News | April 27, 2010

AstraZeneca Paying $520 Million To Settle Illegal Marketing Claims

By Lori Clapper, Web Editor

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca announced today it has reached an agreement with federal and state entities to settle illegal marketing allegations related to the company's antipsychotic drug Seroquel. Although the company denies the allegations, it has agreed to pay $520 million to settle the federal investigations and to enter into a corporate integrity agreement with the Inspector General of the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

According to a New York Times article, AstraZeneca was accused of misleading doctors and patients by playing up the benefits of Seroquel without fully disclosing the drug's potentially harmful effects, such as the increased risk of diabetes. Because of the aggressive marketing, Seroquel has been increasingly prescribed to children and elderly patients for indications not approved by the FDA. Although doctors can prescribe approved drugs for off-label use, it is illegal for drug makers to promote medications for any purpose not approved by the FDA.

The Times article also says more than 25,000 civil lawsuits related to Seroquel still loom in AstraZeneca's future.

Read the story from the New York Times.

Read the announcement from AstraZeneca.