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. Michele

    My husband took this for a couple of years...I knew it was wrong..he slept too hard..Last August he crashed his car in the a.m.,hit a wall,almost died..if you do not sleep a full 8 hours..you are dangerous on the road...I demanded to his dr. to get him off it...I wonder how many other people have died/almost died at the hands of seroquel?I hope it is taken off the market for good!...where's our cut of the settlement?....

    April 27, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Leslie

    The problem is the Drug Companies responsiblity. Thank goodness they are being held accountable! I hope this opens a probe into ALL drug companies.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dina

    @ 156 Nicole-

    The pharmacy dont provide a detailed list. Yes with any drug there is a list. The only detailed list is in the Pdf prescribing information. That is where the details are actually listed.

    Those details are only what they want to publish the real clinical trial for almost all drugs are once they have made it to the general population.

    The bare minimum of everything is done to get any drug approved. The FDA isnt some hot off the press agency. They cant keep dog food, or peanut butter from getting pulled from the market.

    Has it occured to any of the people on here who make nasty comments to the people who have taken this drug.

    Maybe they were not in a healthy position to do research?????? Wow sounds like a far right wing comment to me. "

    Yes people should take care of themselves but they are not the drs or the pharm companies.

    So make the medications legal just use full disclouse whatever the drug may be. Full disclosure...

    April 27, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ash

    I'd like to know how much all the lobbyists have received from this corporation.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  5. tara

    compared to their profits, this fine is nothing, no one is being held accountable, this is just a political move to make it look like someone is trying to do right by the general population. which just isn't the case.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. INEEDSLEEP

    Just received the CNN News re Seroquel. I have been taking this drug since 2004 and it is the ONLY medication that has worked to make me sleep. It has been a lifesaver. I am not bipolar and I do not need an anti-psychotic drug – Seroquel makes me sleep

    April 27, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BrickellPrincess

    Great! Let's drive the pharmaceutical companies that bring us the cures that save our lives out of business with out of this world fines!

    Why not! I am sure I can rely on a shaman or the power of prayer to cure me if I ever get cancer. Sure! Why not!

    April 27, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Michelle

    Want to know more about the story.. What are the real details to the whole story, why wasn't that reported?

    April 27, 2010 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  9. pittster

    Who gets the money? Will the beneficiary use it properly?

    April 27, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dr B

    1) THIS FORUM IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR TALKING TO A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL. Quit asking a bunch of total strangers if your medication is still safe to take. That is dangerous, because they just have no idea whether you should or should not. Call your prescribing physician.

    2) The point of ANY company is to make money. Even not-for-profits are allowed to make a certain amount. Why should pharmaceutical companies be any different?

    3) If you think pharmaceuticals are terrible, you are free to live without them..... without Tylenol, and Advil, and Prozac, and Lipitor, and Premarin, and Synthroid, and Prilosec. And don't forget Albuterol, and Claritin, and Penicillin.

    Taking pharmaceuticals is a choice. You are welcome to live with your asthma, your thyroid condition, your cancer, your AIDS, your allergies, your pneumonia, and your swine flu.

    You just can't have it both ways. Either the pharmaceutical companies are the work of the devil, or they are heaven-sent, prolonging, saving, and improving the quality of the lives of millions of people.

    4) People are angry that drugs are so expensive. OF COURSE they are. Drugs are outrageously expensive. no one with half a brain can possibly argue against that. But look into how much money goes into research, development, testing, and FDA approval. Sure, the people who work at pharmaceutical companies make a rather nice salary, but I personally WANT the best, brightest, and most advanced minds working on drugs that may some day save my life. I do NOT want Howard, the fry cook at McDonald's creating anything other than my Big Mac. But if you pay sub-standard salaries, you are going to get the Howards of the world.

    Big salaries attract the big talent. Full stop.

    Screaming and cheering and dancing in the street because a large company got a large fine does nothing but prove to the world that you have no rhythm, and that you will never make it on Soul Train.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ken

    This drug is another one released to solve the world's problems. Unfortunately the only winners are big pharma. Exactly who is writing these FDA drug approval reports. Take a real close look at how it is prescribed and for what reasons. Get with a real doctor who has YOUR interests at heart. Ask questions. Make sure you are not fitting a profile for this and other drugs that make the world go away. Literally.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. derek

    where is the actual story line here? Or does CNN now just post headlines and wait for us to comment and call it news......

    April 27, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Eagle Johnson

    I got this prescribe for impotence. Stuff like this just makes me crazy.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Lindsey

    I took seroquel for years. It was the worst thing that's ever happened to me.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Patti

    Forgive my ignorance, but where is the rest of the story? I see ONE SENTENCE and like 200 comments – did CNN run out of money to pay real reporters or what?

    April 27, 2010 at 4:00 pm | Report abuse |
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