|March 10, 2011
Contact: Whitney Ray
Phone: (850) 245-0150
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla -- Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced today that Florida, along with 37 other states, reached a record $68.5 million-dollar settlement with AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP for the alleged improper marketing of the antipsychotic drug Seroquel. This settlement is the largest settlement in the nation’s history of a multi-state consumer protection-based investigation against a pharmaceutical company. The Attorneys General from Florida and Illinois led the investigation into AstraZeneca’s marketing and promotional practices and Florida's share of the 37-state settlement will be just over $4 million in addition to stopping the conduct.
The complaint and settlement agreement filed today alleges that AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals engaged in unfair and deceptive practices when it marketed Seroquel for unapproved, or off-label, uses for pediatric and geriatric patients. The filing also alleges that AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals failed to adequately disclose the drug’s potential side effects to health care providers.
“My office is very concerned about the rise in marketing of serious drugs like this for off-label uses dangerous to the patient,” said Attorney General Bondi. “I am encouraged that this company will now have to halt this unsafe practice and other pharmaceutical companies are on notice that these practices will have severe consequences.”
These drugs allegedly produce dangerous side effects, including weight gain, diabetes, hyperglycemia, cardiovascular complications, an increased risk of mortality in elderly patients with dementia and other severe conditions. Seroquel has been associated with a high risk of weight gain, hyperglycemia, and diabetes.
The settlement includes AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals agreeing to change how it markets Seroquel and to not promote the drug’s “off-label” uses, which are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The terms of the settlement also include injunctive provisions prohibiting promotion of the drug to physicians who do not ordinarily treat patients with the conditions Seroquel is approved to treat, such as pediatricians and doctors who oversee geriatric populations, i.e. nursing homes.