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. Robin

    So what's the story? Also, for those of you cheering, AZ will still (even with the expense of "illegal marketing") be profiting billions on the drug! Are we supposed to cheer that the big drug company got caught, or be sad that the penalty was (although a fortune to most of us) not enough to make a significant dent in their profits.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Steve P

    Illegal marketing? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!

    If that's the case, the entire federal gubment ought to be shown the door to the hoosegow.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Tracey

    My husband works for them and all of you who are so quick to condem them are the first to run to the Dr and get a sript to pop a pill to solve all of your problems..

    April 27, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Walter

    The laws are not that cut and dry. The average American wants everything for free so they can waste away and do nothing. If you don't like big drug companies, don't buy their drug for you or your kids. 90% (900million dollars) goes to satisfy the government and FDA regulations, so if you want cheaper drugs start with government.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Steve P

    "Drug maker to pay $520 million fine for illegal marketing

    Drug manufacturing giant AstraZeneca will pay a $520 million fine for illegally marketing the antipsychotic drug Seroquel, the Justice Department announced Tuesday."

    Now, THAT is good redporting. No facts, just a headline and a "supporting" statement.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dina

    JW–
    actaully I do think who proceeded Obama was evil. I dont "credit Obama" with this issue.
    But homogeneous thinking isnt what this country is about.
    We are entitled to disagree.
    Bush ruined this country hence the collapse of the economy. Perpetual bickering is a sign of using one's thought processes. Should we all just agree with all things all of the time?
    This isnt the stepford country.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. poppy

    There are no details to give. Astra-Zeneca has been fighting like hell to keep the details of their misconduct sealed by the courts. That's scary. Has there been harm from use of this drug? Did they hide studies that would taint the sale of this drug?

    April 27, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. blaine leavitt

    Cost of doing business 500 million fine, They make 2 billion just a cost expenditure.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. udu

    Well, the drug that was already produced, will be shipped off to third world countries for the time being. Once the issue is forgotten in th uS, guess what, same drug will be sold with a new name here too. By the way, what is illegally marketing, anyway? Doctors are authorized to prescribe, right? So.. where is illegality comes in? 🙁

    April 27, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Jose

    They like to drug people and now I read that the Government wants to add monitoring chips to all medications, so they can force these drugs on the community. They will also send an agent to your location to make sure that you take your medication. Was this idea part of the Health Care Reform? If it was, then people need to stand up for their rights and refuse that the Government control your health decisions as well.

    Socialism has arrived!! The Government has taken full control of our life's. No more privacy and no more Constitution..

    What next? They run our daily lives already. Stand up and voice your concerns with your politicians, Government control is not the way to fix up our messes and debt.

    Clean up Washington, we need caring people to write laws and work with the communities that vote them into office. GOD BLESS AMERICA !!!

    April 27, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Brian

    Ok, so I know ya all think its great that Astra Zeneca got fined, but look at it this way. 1. Economics tells us that any tax or fine is passed over to the consumer. So, they get fined, the prices go up. 2. Astra Zeneca actually helps many consumers. They are the leading company for giving out free cards for their assistance program. I have plenty of patients that have no insurance, and they get Astra Zeneca products for 15 dollars a month supply, and if you qualify for assistance, you get those as permanent benefits. Please don't judge the good companies.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Christine

    Okay, since Seroquel costs about 900$ for my one month's supply, I would have to look at it this way, I am paying the fine, not AstraZeneca. Thank God there is a generic coming soon for this medication, Astra Zeneca will only take this as a slap on the wrist, it's time we do more than post something like this as a headline to make people think, Oh, Dear....maybe it is an Oh Dear for you and I paying the high prices...but NOT AstraZeneca!

    April 27, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. LaughingMan

    And further evidence that entrusting our health to for-profit companies is just a bad idea. They don't give a crap about us. It's all about profits

    April 27, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. NIMROD

    Why does pfizer get to illegally market bextra?
    http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/04/02/pfizer.bextra/index.html
    Then put forth a shill company to take the hit.
    America has been taken over by corrupt politicians feeding at the trough of corporate lobbyists. I guarantee you that if pfizer was fined for the bextra incident, their ability to bill medicare revoked, NO DRUG COMPANY WOULD EVER DO ANYTHING LIKE THIS AGAIN. The only reason that they got away with this is MONEY. Why do we even try to act like this is a democracy. America is now run by corporate fascists.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dave

    Horrors, some AstraZeneca executive may not get his bonus. Sob.. The Big Pharma companies make billions and billions, but also spend billions in research on new drugs that might, if one of the under 1% that actually work, make more billions (before they're recalled for safety problems.)

    Some days ya just can't win. Time to buy another Senator or three!

    April 27, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
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