Seroquel False Marketing Probe Ends in $520 Million Fine

AstraZeneca, the maker of Seroquel, has agreed to pay the federal government $520 million in fines for illegally marketing its drug. Federal prosecutors had been investigating the drug company for promoting Seroquel for so-call off label uses for which the drug was not approved by the FDA. Seroquel has been approved to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.
AstraZeneca is one of a series of drug companies fined for promoting their drugs, especially anti-psychotic drugs for off label uses. According to the Wall St. Journal, “Last year, Eli Lilly agreed to pay more than $1.4 billion and pleaded guilty to a criminal charge, admitting that it promoted the antipsychotic Zyprexa for off-label uses, including to treat dementia in the elderly.
Pfizer Inc. agreed to pay $2.3 billion and plead guilty to a criminal charge last year to settle a government probe of its marketing practices. The civil portion of that pact included a government allegation that Pfizer promoted the antipsychotic Geodon off-label, though Pfizer denied that allegation.”
In spite of the settlement, AstraZeneca still faces thousands of product liability lawsuits that allege Seroquel use has caused diabetes and that the drug maker failed to properly warn healthcare professionals and consumers of the drug’s potential serious health risks.