AstraZeneca is paying out $68.5 million to settle a lawsuit in the USA based on allegations the company "deceptively marketed" its antipsychotic Seroquel.
The deal, which covers 36 states and the District of Columbia, was announced by New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow, was described as "the largest-ever multi-state, consumer-protection-based pharmaceutical settlement". AstraZeneca was accused of engaging in unfair and misleading practices when it marketed Seroquel (quetiapine) for unapproved or off-label uses, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and post traumatic stress disorder.
The complaint also alleged that AstraZeneca failed to adequately disclose the potential side effects of Seroquel and withheld negative information contained in scientific studies regarding its safety and efficacy.The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker vehemently denies any wrongdoing but believes that settling this type of case makes sense practically, reducing the distractions of legal battles across the Atlantic.
As part of the settlement, which follows a three-year investigation, AstraZeneca will publicly post its payments to physicians on a website and put policies in place to ensure financial incentives are not given to sales personnel for off-label marketing. AG Dow claimed that the case "sends a message that we take seriously the duty pharmaceutical companies have to supply clear, accurate and complete information about their products" and to market them "without deception or misleading claims.”