Having started the week with good news about Crestor, AstraZeneca has ended it with further approvals for another of its blockbusters, Seroquel.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker has announced that Seroquel (quetiapine) and the once-daily version of the drug, Seroquel XR, have received expanded approvals in Europe for the treatment of major depressive episodes in bipolar disorder. The latter treatment has also been given the go-ahead for moderate-to-severe manic episodes in bipolar disorder.

This follows the approval last month of Seroquel XR in similar indications by the US Food and Drug Administration. This means that the drug in both formulations is currently the only atypical antipsychotic approved “to treat the spectrum of mood episodes associated with bipolar disorder and the only licensed treatment for bipolar depression in the EU”, AstraZeneca said.

The latest approvals for bipolar disorder represent the firm’s latest bid to extend the lucrative Seroquel franchise, which currently brings in over $4 billion to the firm’s coffers. The non-extended release formulation faces patent expiries in 2011 and the new version is key to offsetting the loss of sales that would result in.
AstraZeneca noted that it will move forward with obtaining local approvals with the 17 member states that take part in the European Mutual Recognition Procedure.