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. Sandi

    My doctor precribes this for my asthma, I don't have any pychotic problems yet.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. andy

    "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."

    No one. I don't need it. If I eat right and exercise, and cease to be a fat american lazy lump sitting on my butt I wont NEED any of your snake oil.

    These "dugs" don't FIX anything. They don't even understand what they do. They just see one side effect and call it a cure. Don't worry about all the other things it's doing.

    We dont NEED these crappy drugs. Nature has everything we need without processing it. It's because we eat processed foods and swim in a world of pollution that we even have all these problems. Stop doing X and you won't need Y which Causes Z. Simple.

    Treat the problem, don't put bandaids on the symptoms. This is basic people.

    I have friends who are doctors. They tell me plenty of stories about being taken out to Steak dinners by Pharma reps. Tell me this isn't fishy? If you don't believe me, you are welcome to be an ostrich with your head in the sand. Say hi to the voices for me.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. tony

    I don't if a was just given to large of a dose but this drug is no joke. I would take the pill and 15 minutes later I would be asleep then I would wake up 45 minutes later and be in a haze for the next.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Dave

    And exactly where do you think Astra-Zeneca is going to get that $520 million???

    April 27, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. NSG

    @ Vivik... You're a DOUCHE! Should've been worse of a fine.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Scortch

    Uh...where's the story part...? I see the headline, and the unnecessary explanation of what the headline says, but where's the story?

    April 27, 2010 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Isaac

    They won't end up paying this much in the end, but DAMN!

    April 27, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. The Truth

    "The company, based in London, has been accused of misleading doctors and patients by playing up favorable research and not adequately disclosing studies that show Seroquel increases the risk of diabetes. " -New York Times

    Give everyone the whole story CNN. The people are getting sick of all the biased news that doesn't hold all the facts like NEWS should.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Val

    Astra Zeneca paid physicians kickbacks to pose as people who wrote articles stating Seroquel was good for the use of Alzheimer's and anxiety. Really, it is only approved for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other psychotic diseases.
    This does not affect people taking the drug for the sole purpose of an anti-psychotic.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tim - Ohio

    I think it's despicable to amount of money pharmaceutical companies sink into advertising. Drugs are to be prescribed based upon their ultimate benefits to the patient by the doctors. It is not and should never be incumbent upon the pharmaceutical company and the patient to determine which drug to use. As someone who worked in the warehouse for a pharmaceutical I thought it was terrible the thousands and thousands of samples that were sent out to start people on these drugs. I think the FDA needs to have stronger enforcement for the marketing of the pharmaceutical industry.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Syphon Filter

    No surprise here. On top of all this, they also get corporate welfare called corporate tax deductions. The rich get richer. The CEO and all of its board members should get 100 lashes on their backside for turning a blindside to this situation. Consumers will always need protection from Multinational corporations.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Paul

    You guys don't understand a thing. That fine is actually a gift from the Federal government!

    The actual legal penalties for any drug company caught illegally marketing a drug – i.e. fraud – is the inability to sell drugs to Medicare or the VA or any government program for ANY of their drugs. That's enough to put Astra Zenaca out of business! So the government is actually giving them a gift just like Pfizer got a simliar gift after admitting to illegally marketing Bextra when it paid fines and set up a company specifically to admit guilt so the parent company wouldn't have to suffer.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Trey

    I was partying on New Year's Eve last year and accidentally snorted a 300 mg. Seroquel.

    Trust me, these are some strong pills. No need to worry about weight loss because one tiny mistake with these things and you will not wake up. Granted, I drank a fifth of Jim Beam with it also.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. e

    By Jerry Markon
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Tuesday, April 27, 2010; 4:24 PM

    Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca will pay $520 million to settle allegations that the company illegally marketed an antipsychotic drug and paid kickbacks to physicians, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

    The settlement centers on the Delaware-based company's efforts to promote Seroquel, which the Food and Drug Administration has approved to treat disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar depression. The government alleges that AstraZeneca aggressively marketed the drug for unapproved uses - such as to treat Alzheimer's disease and anxiety - to physicians, who then put patients at risk by prescribing it.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  15. illinoisman

    Kind of like the new GM advertising. Paying bailout money with bailout money and calling it paid in full.

    April 27, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21