April 27th, 2010
01:43 PM ET

Drug maker to pay $520 million fine for illegal marketing

Pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca has agreed to pay a $520 million fine to settle claims that it illegally marketed its antipsychotic drug Seroquel, the Department of Justice said Tuesday.

AstraZeneca is charged with fraudulently marketing Seroquel and promoting the drug to patients and physicians for uses that the Food and Drug Administration never approved, Attorney General Eric Holder said at Tuesday's settlement announcement.

The pharmaceutical giant has also been accused of violating anti-kickback laws by paying doctors to refer the drug to patients, while at the same time bringing in money from government health care programs.

"According to the settlement, AstraZeneca's illegal marketing of the drug led to millions of dollars in false claims against federal and state programs like Medicare and Medicaid," Holder said.

The settlement fine of $520 million, which will be paid to federal and state taxpayers, is the most money ever paid by a business in a civil-only settlement for charges of off-label marketing, the Department of Justice said.

"These were not victimless crimes," said Holder. "Illegal acts by pharmaceutical companies and false claims against Medicare and Medicaid can put the public health at risk, corrupt medical decisions by health care providers, and take billions of dollars directly out of taxpayers' pockets."

Read full CNNMoney.com story

soundoff (315 Responses)
  1. Andrew

    My psychologist put me on seroguel when I didnt need it and it caused extreme weight gain and unhealthy eating and sleeping habits.. as far as im concerned its poison.. i gave the Psychologist his pills back and never went back.. I've been doing better ever since!

    April 27, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Nicholas

    What is wrong with all of you? You are excited and frothing at the mouth at the idea of hurting a company, the end results of which will be only detrimental to you. Does anybody really believe you will receive some benefit from the punishment of this company? The government keeps all the fines, and the company will simply increase prices to make up for the loss. This is effectively a *tax increase* with money flowing from the people to the government. How is that for Populism? I suppose that people cannot be blamed for their frenzied need to punish others even if it hurts themselves, as this psychological oddity has been proven in studies. So, enjoy your "victory" haters of businesses. By the way, for those who love the idea of "sticking it to the Man" and putting these companies out of business, ask yourselves who will make your heart, cholesterol, and cancer medications.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Roy J

    I do work for a pharma co ... just and FYI for all of you ... my company is laying off people left & right. I do not support or defend or villify them, they do what they do because this is a capitalistic country & the bottom line is all that truly matters.
    If you were knowledgable in the whole process from drug discovery to clinical trials to FDA approval to generic introduction you would understand things better. US patents are only good for about 18 years and it take about 12-15 to bring a discovered / patented molecule to the FDA.
    Oh & guess what, anything you put in your body has effects. You are a big boy/girl & no one is forcing you to take it. If you do not like your doc get a new one. If you do not like a drug (brand or generic) don't take it.
    Man you people are whiney babies.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SeanKL

    If there is any doubt in your mind why a fine is a good thing, watch the video where an actor goes undercover as a pharma rep selling a cure-all drug that the doctors are totally on board for:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YRShjrZhmE

    April 27, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Barbara Hogg

    What does this mean to people who have been on the drug? My daughter had a very bad reaction trying to get off the drug. Calgary, Canada

    April 27, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. shelly

    Where's the story? I need more info!!!!!

    April 27, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Dave

    @ Roy J

    Good post beause you are right

    April 27, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Anita

    When the FDA approves a drug, it is for a specific purpose or purposes. However, a doctor can choose to prescribe it for any other reason – called off-label prescribing (obviously, a doctor cannot be negligent in doing this). What the problem was here was that the drug company was marketing the drug to the doctors outside of the FDA approval. Seroquel is approved by the FDA as an anti-seizure medicine. Psychiatrists have tried this drug as a treatment for bipolar, a use not approved by the FDA. There is nothing illegal about this particular use of the drug. What the drug company did was market the drug to doctors for use as a bipolar treatment. You who are using Seroquel for bipolar (or any other reason besides anti-seizures) can continue to be prescribed this medicine.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joshua

    When I first saw the headline, I was freaked, because my uncle is one of the patent holders of the drug as one of the original research scientidsts. However, he was involved in the original goal of treating psychotic disorders, not this off-label junk, and I'm pretty sure he retired from AsdtraZeneca before any of this happened. I just wanted to make sure this does nothing to darken his name.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dave

    Seriously does anyone read my posts? I have answered most of your questions 🙁

    April 27, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. rich

    control uses simple basic technology, a radio transmitter, a zaper, and a speaker and microphone. it seems like washingtons ears are always flooded by a mic that keeps going on and off in their heads with no one there at the other end. you know how the new headsets keep going on off when you dont mean for them to,

    one of the important parts to make this work is related to these drugs.
    there is a molecule that attaches to the brain cells and they use this as a vessel to deliver different drugs to the brain and not your lower parts, well at least thats how they are supposed to work.
    so they found a compound that when you eat it it goes to the brain, so they attach different things to this molecule and try to modify it to make drugs that affect your brains, and the first ones they were looking for is the ones that could control the brain paralysis and counter it. this can help them make a drug to make an old crazy brain start to recover by waking up the old dormant parts, but the drugs they claim work better if used to just paralyze the brains because who wants to hear crazy ppl talk right?

    the key to control is that they shall not be able to tell it is happening. your thought may not be your own, you will go along with your thought, but may not have one of your own for hours.
    the way this works is there is a thing that silences your inner voice with some type of electric signals, but still allows the rest of your brain to function so that you are not ocmpletely trashed by it and you can still stand and not fall or crash or be knocked out, but this targets specifically your inner voice in your mind and can silence it at the press of a button, you will not hear your own mind, but can still function properly, because it has been advanced to not Affect the entire brain only the part that hears your thoughs.

    your brain is still thinking but it is an inaudible thought like the kind that deaf people have, they dont think with a voice that we do, they have more thoughts they cant hear, untill they get a voice lol. bush said he had inaudible thoughs lisp effect when he read out loud causing a lisp when he read, and of course this is what he was talking about.
    probably because he couldnt hear himself think half the time lol.

    so this allows something else to take over your mind and give you a fake mind, you will feel shocked to hear this but imagine you can still think as smart as einstien but except you cant hear it in your head, instead you will hear some idiot voice going on and on about something stupid and it will most likely be a complete waste of said persons time to do this to you unless you are a good looking young woman, in which case the voice will tell you that you should try to lose your racial virginity and quit your job and just go sell it at the bar and say it is someones and take the checks and leave the kid with mommy and go do it again untill you get too old to do it anymore or end up dead or find a rich sucker which you very well could if you could do it to yourself you can do it to the rich people too cant you? ever see that movie gamer?
    i am explaining to you how to control a person the scientific way. this thing lets you think and function but near hear your thoughts and allows you to hear what other people would like you to think, but its not all that bad because if you are a good person or hot young woman then chances are this could turn out nice for you so long as they give you a break or two or maybe even brainwash everyone so be more proper.

    because of this loophole, you will never hear 2 things at once, so when the voice speaks, they have to press a button to send on radio, like police radios, this way you will think things and think the things they want you to on top of that superceeding what you were thinking yourself but at the same time you were thinking something else, except, you will never notice that a voice is trying to talk over your thoughts, because you cant freaking hear yourself think when the voice is tlaking,

    they get good at it after a while, they like to keep saying the same thing over and over again. like if i wanted a job that paid $300,000 and someone else had it, then the voice that told his boss to hire him in the first place would hopefully keep making him think how much this job sucks and how bad it is but then when i hear someone that is all depressed and talking about how bad it is and then i say no they are just torturing themselves and then they say wow he is really smart, and i do feel like im a lot smarter than the guy wasting his time telling a teenage boy the boogie man is coming for him, grow up people and please just go overdose already, yes people we can thank the taliban for getitng our self proclaimed "government" hooked on anything you can shoot. so if they want to nuke the dope farm be my guest, those drugs are destroying our self proclaimed government! i just cant stand it!

    so anyways, it works with simple old gadjets and a little trickery thats all, but these drugs could counter this, by increasing the nerve signal in your brain so that they cannot silence your real self, but the truth is that these drugs are actually putting our brains on permanent mute, so obviously what im saying is that this is the wrong drug for you, this is the type meant to destroy our thinking, but other drugs might help, i doubt it that a chemical can over ride a machine imput but who knows this stuff is complexe isnt it?

    so no this drug will not help us, the people who profit from it do so at the discretion of the powers that be, making them vips right? but of course people like us would never ever say anything about taking pow's because we know that is not right.

    obviously this type of drug has some importance to the poeple in power because it makes them more powerfull.
    my advice is do not take this drug because it will make you feel like crap, instead take a drug that will stimulate your brain or make you feel good, because if you are going to take drugs that you do not need then you might as well take the ones that make you feel good.
    i know this is a slap in the face to everyone but dont take it the wrong way, this is meant to paint a cryatal clear picture of why governments should nver keep secrets or lie to its people, what if that guy form gamer comes along and buys them all out? then the next thing you know he will be all over tv and the radio and he will have sex with all of our women just to piss us off like in the movie and then he will eventually be gone one day like the one before him right and then we will have to put up with the next guy that thinks he can trust himself with the power.

    i should file a public patent and copyright on this control device here as i have not seen this published before, i wonder how much the russians would give me for this?. not that we were ever able to keep a secret from them to begin with. we need to quit lying to ourselves. people are dying every day just because they were "driving" "with no particular place to go" during a gas crisis and mental crisis they didnt know they had.

    who knows maybe the real culprit here is the aliens, so who wants to buy the copyrights from me? you cant put a price on power but now you can right? anyone can do this stuff if they know how.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. newxt

    It appears that the Obama Administration is starting to get things in order. But somehow the Repubs will make this his fault as well.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Dave

    @ Anita

    What are you talking about. Its NOT FDA approved as an anti-seizure medicine. It actially lower the seizure threshold. Seizure disorder is one of the warnings behind the use of this drug.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SMan

    How about people start thinking about what they are putting in their bodies before they do it. Do some research on a drug before you take it. And dont take anything that is brand new to the market. Nobody is going to protect you BUT YOU! And notice people go right to the drug companies and not their dr to sue. Chi-Ching!

    April 27, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tess

    My elderly mother's doctor prescribed her Seroquel to counteract her psychotic problems caused by other drugs given to her during a surgery.

    When I read the fine print on the drug, it specifically warned against prescribing it to the elderly as it tended to kill them. I called the doctor & had the Seroquel stopped immediately. Fortunately, he complied with my wishes. What I read about that drug scared me a lot. I could not believe it was allowed on the market.

    The drug would not have worked anyway because her psychosis was not caused by a natural brain process or physical malfunction.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
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