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. Jenna Tolls

    And whatdya know. Just 7 comments now and my point is already proven. Cornelius, what do you even know about the company. Why don't you ask yourself that? You just blindly hate big companies like the tea partiers blindly hate anything government. I bet you throw terms like "Wall Street", "Big Banks", and "Big Oil" around all the time on internet blogs. Get a life.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. vote republican

    Stop harrasing businesses. Medical policy should be free market driven.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Saxo Grammaticus

    Just a cost of doing business for Big Pharma. I do hope thaey can't find a way to make the fine tax deductible!

    April 27, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. vivek

    GO ASTRA ZENECA!!!!

    $5 Billion in sales – and the OBAMA justice dept only fines them $500M for selling something that was known to increase weight by 11 lbs over a year (Astra Zeneca said it would help lose weight – see NYtimes).....

    $500M is barely 10% of the $5Billion in revenues. Considering profits of drugs (which are already in production is close to 90%... this fine is a slap on the hand.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. DJareYouSerious

    DJ,
    If they lose that much money what do you ultimately think is going to happen to drug prices? They will not allow themselves to have major profit losses. This means further rising costs for meds...

    April 27, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. John Q. Public

    How is this breaking news? It was originally announced back in October of 2009 – http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/30/business/30drug.html?_r=1

    April 27, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. don

    I must agree with my Dr where I used to live. Sometimes...a shot of scotch is better. Yeah yeah under the right circumstances blah blah.
    SIG: one shot of Chivas at bedtime.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Cathy Brunton

    What about the authenticity of Seroquel???

    April 27, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Rob

    For a company worth $9 billion, this is just a slap on the wrist.

    April 27, 2010 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. DMH

    ...I guess at the end the consumer is the one paying the tab......what they have to pay up front, they will charge at the back end to us, The house always wins!

    April 27, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John

    Joe Tippytoes,

    Yeah, let's put them all out of business then we wont have to spend money on medicines. Just think of the savings! lol!

    April 27, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. GC

    No article, just a headline?

    April 27, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Average Liberal

    I don't know anything about the case at all. I just know that Astra Zeneca is a big company and big companies are BAD! Go get em! Wall street! Bonuses! CEOS! Big Banks! Argghhhh neeeeed more buzz words!

    April 27, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Amy

    I am glad. Every time some gets sick Doctors who don't even major in psycology are trying to push these drugs. They insist that depression cause everything from upset stomach to heart palapations to a strong conviction in God. So another words if you have sever case of the flu and go to church regulary,than you are depressed.Instead of pushing anti-depressants lets find the real reason for people being sick.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Say what?

    Seriously, so they uptick the price of everything they sell to cover this drop in the bucket. Don't get fooled by the number. This fine means squat to therm

    April 27, 2010 at 2:01 pm | Report abuse |
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