AstraZeneca has been boosted by the news that the European Union panel has approved the use of the antipsychotic Seroquel and Seroquel XR for the prevention of the recurrence of bipolar disorder.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker says that Seroquel (quetiapine) and the once-daily version of the drug, Seroquel XR, have been approved under the European Mutual Recognition Procedure for the prevention of recurrence of bipolar disorder in patients whose manic, mixed or depressive episode has responded to treatment with the drugs. Following this new indication, the drugs are the only agents approved in the EU to treat all phases of bipolar disorder, AstraZeneca said, asdding that it can now move forward to obtain local approvals in EU member states.

This is particularly good news for AstraZeneca as it comes four months after the firm was notified by the Netherlands Health Authority, acting as the reference member state for the EU, that it had rejected the drugs for recurrent depressive episodes in adults with major depressive disorder, That decision saw AstraZeneca refer its application to the European Medicines Agency’s Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use for central approval.

An application to license Seroquel to treat major depressive disorder in the USA is under review, having been filed in February 2008.

Cimzia deal signed with UCB
Meantime, AstraZeneca has signed a deal with UCB to register and distribute the Belgian drugmaker’s Cimzia (certolizumab pegol) in Brazil. The drug is approved elsewhere for rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease.

Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZeneca will distribute future new line extensions related to Cimzia, though UCB retains the right to co-promote Cimzia as well as future line extensions in Brazil.