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. winnie

    Jenn, I don't follow you? How are the CNN readers not reading this one sentence article? Not everyone will think this is a good thing. Where do you think these drugs were being prescribed this drug. I'm sure they are not viewing this as nothing but pharcuetical bashing. They are concerened about what this may mean for thier health.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  2. totally neutral

    Well, there is always Google-
    AstraZeneca was giving doctors free samples, then the doctors were billing medicare full price for the free samples. This one was for a cancer drug, and the fine was 335 million.
    The Seroquil fine was for fraudulent drug trials. Not much information is available as to the details.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Dave

    Here, all: the rest of the story...


    April 27, 2010 at 2:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Texas Star

    It is called BREAKING NEWS for a reason people... They probably do not have any further information as of yet.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. OMFG


    April 27, 2010 at 2:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. cynthia

    why post a story when the story isnt even here 2 read!!!???? grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr what about people who take this drug??? how is going to effect every1 on it??/ its a great but scary drug!

    April 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sandi

    where is the rest of the story?

    April 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Matthew

    I also take this medication for sleep? I hope it is just a cost issue.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. God

    What is it about this country that everyone seek to punish someone for being successful?

    April 27, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  10. JW

    Obama is responsible for this? Really? Give me a break, the FDA has been imposing fines on Pharma companies forever. Did you give Bush credit for the Vioxx fines? How a bout Heparin? These are multi billion dollar judgements against companies that occurred during the previous administration, never mind this mere 520 mil judgement.
    C'mon, Obama is not lord of all things and the those that preceeded him where not the incarnate of evil. Its thinking like that that will prepetually keep us bickering among ourselves while they all stick it to us.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Paula

    I take 800 mg of the Extended release formula for bipolar disorder and for sleep. It works well for me for these two problems. What kind of illegal marketing was referred to in the breaking news blog? I know it has recently been approved for use in both the manic and depressive phases of bipolar disorder...

    April 27, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Deeter


    April 27, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |

    How does this affect those who are currently taking this medication?? It seems that the more complete story would have at least referenced how it relates to real people. So they pay a huge fine to the govt (I'm assuming based on the lack of information in this post) for illegally marketing the drug. Does that offer the people taking the medication anything? (not based on the post) Does it mean that it will no longer be available? Does it mean nothing to the person taking the medication because it will still be able to be obtained? Please someone answer these questions!?

    April 27, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. pararickf45

    GOOD!!! I hope they don't stop there! They need to go after all these other drug companies that spend hundreds of millions on advertising not telling consumers about ALL the side effects of the drugs that they sell. Pressuring doctors to write prescriptions for patients that may or may not be applicable to them. These drug companies are responsible (@ least in part) for the increase of the overmedication of Americans today which leads to poorer health in a variety of ways.

    Since the government likes to involve themselves in everyones business I think this issue should be addressed and regulated. Doctors know what their patients need. Drug companies don't need to lead the consumer on!!! If congress would hold senate hearings on this issue It would go a long way in imrproving the health of americans.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Thomas

    I was on this crappy drug for sleep years ago. It hardly did anything and then I found out that it could make you suicidal so i stoped taking it. I wonder if im entitled to anything. I doubt it but I could use the money for school. Every year the price goes up.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
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