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. aaron

    Unless some of you guys are going to start formulating and developing new medicines in your garage-I wouldn't begrudge these companies their profits. For every drug that makes it to market, many other projects get abandoned, but only after thousands if not millions of dollars are spent on them.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Eve

    Who get the fine? The government?

    April 27, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  3. LBSquirrel

    This $250M is going to end up in the hands of lawyers and lawmakers.

    Now that AstraZeneca has suffered a (publicly perceived) loss in revenues, they will use this fine as an excuse for them to justify increasing pricing on their next mega-selling pill...

    May I suggest reading, "The King of Torts" by John Grisham?

    April 27, 2010 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  4. mynameislongerthanthisarticle

    Wow...worst article ever. A link to this "article" is at the top of CNN.com under 'latest news' and all we receive is 1 sentence. You'll find more scathing reporting in your local middle school's student run newspaper.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rich

    My son is bipolar and this is one of the many drugs he takes and it helps him.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Nicole

    Thank you Roy!
    I am very sad for everyone here who has had problems with this drug, but seriously, take some responsibility for yourselves. When you pick up your drug, irregardless of what it is and what it treats, you are provided with a DETAILED list of side effects, warnings, and what the drug is approved to treat. Just because someone hands you a perscroption for it doesn't mean that you shouldn't be responsible for your own body. Do some research, go to their website, learn a little about the product you are putting in your body. It's easy to point the blame to "big pharma" but it's the consumer's responsibilty to watch out for themsevles.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JD

    I don't get why they're being fined. According to the federal government illegal is not a crime! At least that's what they're saying about immigration. So does illegal mean criminal all the time or just when they feel like it?

    April 27, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ramesh

    The fine should have been at least or double the amount Astra Zeneca made. That should discourge these companies from such practices. Anything less they will repeat this.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. rachel

    Thanks, CNN, for the FYI. Details?

    April 27, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Ash

    Ya gotta be kidding – isn't that way, way less than they pay their lobbyists?

    April 27, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. richard

    who is your uncle? and why do you care right? what did he ever do for you? well hopefully he would have, if he was just working of the drugs then he has nothing to do with the tiger woods type millions dollars endorement "earmarks" that are being taken and pimped out, heck gatorade was made to pay a fraud athlete enough money to feed hati just to remind us that you cant eat peanuts without having to worry about a rattlesnake jumping out of the jar right glen?
    thats kind of funny he was talking about me fear of eating peanuts because they may have contained insects in them, i mean, they look like bees lol. or maybe he was just thinking the same thing about his box of cracker jacks he was eating, is the made from bones from our dead soldiers? oh god i cant eat this. i think he was trying to relate to me as a viewer by reminding me that our people are sometimes scared to eat a peanut for fear it might grow legs. or are these cheetos made from pork riinds? and if so, could it be white or black meat reprocessed in a juicer machine like the pigs in saw movie or the people in the sunami? if thats how they make chetoos then how do they make munchos? but what about pringles, are they kocher? or may they be possibly made of jew meat? but even if it was it is still kosher right because we dont really know where those people went in that storm, maybe they ended up in a fishing net, but come on now, maybe they didnt? is it just me or do i feel like a jew now? is this even smart or is it just something one of the devils retarded kids made up to torture jews with questions of where the food came from and whether or not its safe to eat. better play it safe and minus the patty from that whopper combo boss. and those fries look a little bit too good to be true if you ask me, what if they were made from virgin bone flour? or what if they used seales and whales in it too! now that would be just worth dontating to peta wouldnt it? and if the commies are running the show then does that mean they are selling their own fat asses to us? i dont really feel like a jew at all but i have been in the past made to feel like one, i mean they tried to insinuate that one or 2 of my grandparents whom i never met may have been part, but of course thats what all nazis say about people they dont like for whatever retarded reason. im pretty sure that most of those jews were also french or not even jews but were accused and sent to their deaths. anyone that had a nice house was kicked out and sent to aushwitz so it could be their new smokehouse where they could smoke poles, get it i mean they said they were jews too.
    im not the one holding alll the money so dont call me a jew you greedy idiots you are hypocryties!

    April 27, 2010 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Freemason

    why not jail time ? just fines for someone making billions its like a slap on the wrist shows you FDA is not committed to public health but more worried about its own pockets...take out the Oldies from these agencies they are cancerous to all and will also destroy trust in the eyes of the youth the future.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Linda

    Does anyone know who will get the $520 million???

    April 27, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Simon

    You have to ask yourself what the hell is going on with the federal system when it comes to fines, especially when you look at the pathetic $16 million fine Toyota received compared to other fines imposed on companies like AstraZeneca and BAE.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jrad

    Hmm, some random giant drug company got fined for doing something illegal. How informative!

    April 27, 2010 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
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