A US jury has backed AstraZeneca in the first product liability case to go to trial concerning a claim that its blockbuster antipsychotic Seroquel caused diabetes.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker announced that the jury in a New Jersey state court has rejected a Louisiana plaintiff’s claims that Seroquel (quetiapine) caused his alleged injuries. Jurors voted 7-1 that AstraZeneca’s label warnings for Seroquel label were adequate to alert users to its diabetes risks.

This was the first such case to get to court and AstraZeneca, noted that the previous nine cases prepared for trial have been dismissed. Furthermore, “2,600 additional cases have been abandoned by the plaintiffs’ attorneys themselves”, the firm added, although there are thousands of lawsuits still pending.

The company added that in "case after case, jurors, judges and even plaintiffs’ lawyers themselves have found that plaintiffs simply cannot show through any accepted scientific method that AstraZeneca is responsible for their alleged injuries”. The New Jersey case and the abandoned suits show that the plaintiff either already had diabetes or had so many pre-existing risk factors that they were already at a significantly increased risk of the disease before they first took Seroquel.

AstraZeneca concluded by saying that it has studied Seroquel extensively and shared the appropriate and required data with the US Food and Drug Administration both before and after the agency first approved it in 1997. The drug is a huge seller and brought in revenues of $4.87 billion last year.

Alzheimer's deal with US university
Meantime, AstraZeneca has entered into a deal with the University of Pennsylvania which will initially focus on generating new Alzheimer’s disease drug candidates for the pipeline. Financial details have not been disclosed, but involves the usual discovery milestone and royalties package, while AstraZeneca has “exclusive access to compound intellectual property and study data for any commercial purposes”.

The collaboration will specifically focus on the protein tau, and Johan Lund, who heads the drugmaker’s discovery research for CNS and pain control in Sodertalje, Sweden, said that “finding new therapies that affect tau-mediated neurodegeneration in AD is one key to AstraZeneca’s strategy for fighting this disease”.