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. JB

    I work for a pharmaceutical company, and while I won't disagree with many of your comments, what you fail to realize is that a $520 million fine is also the potential loss of jobs to offset the loss in profit. Yes, they make big money, and it seems like pocket change for them, but don't forget about Joe Schmo who goes to work everyday on the fill line, and just might lose his job now.

    Since when was being in business supposed to be just about breaking even? It's called Capitalism for a reason

    April 27, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. just google it

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/28/business/28drug.html?src=busln

    April 27, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  3. la08

    there's more information about this topic on msnbc.com

    April 27, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  4. smedge

    Is CNN trolling?

    April 27, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. richard

    ppl keep saying take responsibillity for what you take and read the side effects yourself... im talking about the guy that works there, he knows that people give this to their kids and nothing can help them but god,
    before you drug your kids you should give them up for adoption or put them in childcare and go to work and school.

    and thanks rich for lying to your son about his progress from these pills, nice to see he has someone he can rely on.

    this is just monopoly money, the reason why they are collecting it is because they have just passed go, they really didnt do anything wrong.

    look at the alternative, what if no one had any of the earmark bridge to no where money, then that would mean our country would be that much weaker, to say that taxes would have to pay for it is a joke, the fact is we need more inflation because our people are demanding it and they want to burn down washington and change things themselves.
    these people from this company are just the lucky relatives of some random people in the system that had a chance to do something good for their families and by doing it they are pumping that much more money back into the economy, not hurting it. if washington dont want to spend money then go outside on any random day and tell it to the million black people outside that want to crucify you.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Leah

    I used to take this for a sleep aid as well as many I see other have posted..stop it! All it does is make you SLEEP EAT! and gain a lot of weight.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Eileen Barton

    http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20100427-717519.html?mod=WSJ_World_MIDDLEHeadlinesEurope

    April 27, 2010 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Blayne

    And Toyota was only fined $16.4 million. What a deal!

    April 27, 2010 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. bobotron

    people, stop taking drugs! there is no easy answer in a pill! cut the demand, and stop the dumbing down of society!

    April 27, 2010 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joe

    Why are people against the drug companies? If you don't want to pay for a particular drug then don't take it. People sound like they have no say in what they put into their body.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  11. richard

    if people want the change and they are denied then they should take further actions to defend their rights from tyranny.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rick in VA.

    To all the evident Chamber of Commerce members here defending companies in stories like this, the frothing at the mouth, populist bandwagon attitude you claim people are exhibiting is for a good reason. They're tired of businesses outrageous greed and total lack of honesty. It's not so much about being against business, it's being against crooks who believe their only care or concern is making money and anyway they do it is perfectly fine and dandy. No integrity whatsoever. Most of them act no different than that auto mechanic that charges the little old lady $7K to rebuild her car engine when she brings it in making a ticking noise. They put a few quarts of oil in it, take her $7K and give her car back to her a week later doing nothing to the engine other than putting in oil. Of course the same people will probably find nothing wrong with that either.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. michelle

    Finally Big Pharma is getting theirs. A subsidiary of Pfizer got fined recently for the exact same thing, although everyone knows that the parent company should've been the one fined and not their scapegoat fake company that actually took the hit.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Rob A

    The real cost of what these companies are doing to us!

    http://www.teenscreentruth.com/psychiatry_drugs_suicide.html

    April 27, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rod Kester

    Sadly the fine is probably less money than they made from the illegal advertising. They should be made to spend that much over again in advertising for health and wellness programs that don't push drugs.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
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