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. rich

    i have cracked the case, the mmp, or, "mass murder party" has seen the great threat these drugs pose to their power. this is a communist attack on our sovereignity, lets kill one of their leaders as a warning shot!

    April 27, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Kelly

    I have been on Seroquel for years, and I find it to be a great product. The drug isn't the issue here. It was AstraZeneca illegally marketing it. So, those of us that are on Seroquel, may get screwed because a drug maker is trying to make a few bucks. $520 million isn't a large sum for such a big business, but if there's any chance of AstraZeneca getting shut down, I and many others will lose our medication. Can't the bastards running these companies think of everyone that would be affected by their greed? At least get the recipes before sending a torpedo.

    CNN, where's the rest of the story? This can't be all that was reported.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. SJ

    If they did something illegal, then they should be fined. So SETTLE DOWN all you bandwagon fanatics from both sides of the aisle. They did something illegal and they got fined. End of story. Don't turn it into something it isn't. Seriously, folks.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  4. JennaTroll

    Yeah – alla you libtards and yer ceaseless whinging about Big Bidness!!! I am LIVID! Who do you think is responsible for our precious way of life?!? If not fer the Captains of Indistry, an dtheir shrewd methods onf making All The Money in The World, you ungrateful SOBs wouldn't have big-screen teevees or Cadillacs or Haagen-Dazs or any of the other NECESSARY things that we DESERVE 'cuz we saved the world from the Germans and the Rooskies and the towelhead hordes and the Chinee and all the other evil COMMUNISTS who want to come live here and worship their master Barack HUSSEIN O'bama! Now, get outta my capitalist pig way so I can get me a latte!

    April 27, 2010 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mm

    The DVD, Making a Killing: The Untold Story of Psychotropic Drugging, is available at wwww.cchr.org. Watch it and share it!

    April 27, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. JTL

    WHEN we see the "ethical" Drugs advertised on TV – Watch-OUT! It is Profit Maximization time! Because these is seemingly always a sizeable Legal (ergo Patient Problems) with the Rx product advertised.
    The US Supreme Court has recently ruled (W/regard to political contributions) that corporations are "the same as individuals." If SO! then we need to apply the "Three Strikes" Rules by Prosecutors for All Felonies – Some-Bodies should be doing serious time for serious WrongDoings –
    By the way, from recent news reports – tjhat $ fine is Less than the Drug Makers spent This Year influencing our (or Their?) Congressional Reps and Senators to Oppose HealthCare reform!!! Only in America!!

    April 27, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Vess Pah

    I love comment #6, from "Brandon:"
    "How were they illegally marketing it?? Cause I get perscribed it for sleep not as an antipsychotic."

    First off, the fact that it is prescribed as a hypnotic tells you what it does – numbs people out, rather than "treat" or "cure" their underlying psychosis. And the fact that one is taking one of these atypical antipsychotics to sleep rather than to control psychosis does NOT mean that they won't cause weight gain, diabetes, cardiac problems, and a raft of other horrible side effects.

    Be sure to read "Anatomy of An Epidemic," by Robert Whitaker – and Wake Up!!

    April 27, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Stephanie

    The illegal marketing was for promoting it to patients, other than those suffering from schizophrenia. According to laws, drug companies can only market their drugs for uses that they have received approval for from the DEA. That's not to say that doctors can't prescribe the meds for those unapproved uses, but the drug companies themselves can't promote the unapproved uses.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. amnesiac

    Why direct to consumer marketing of prescription drugs is allowed at all is beyond me.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Joe Public

    this is from last October why is it breaking news now?

    April 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. James

    Seroquil was approved by the FDA. Astra Zeneca was marketing it to physicians for an unapproved indication. This is not uncommon in the pharmaceutical industry, as a drug may treat many symptoms, while only being approved to treat one or a few. Medical studies are written about the alternate uses for a specific drug, and physicians often prescribe medications for unapproved uses. This is not a new phenomenon. It takes millions and millions of dollars to get a new indication approved by the FDA, so often times companies rely on "word of mouth" marketing for new indications. Not uncommon at all.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tasha Linteau

    I was on seroquel numerous times and actually almost died from health issues nobody could figure out..What are you going to do about this??

    April 27, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Constanza

    The money should be use to pay medicine for people who can't afford the medicine they need.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. nikki

    all of them are mass murderers. no one is safe with or without medications. all are together in this. human life has no value to them, someone could die or live, they care a damn.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. chris

    That's the first time I've ever seen a one-sentence story from ANY media.
    No details, no nothing.
    Here's a HUGE story about it:


    that discusses why the fine was levied and about previous fines the company has faced.

    But as many have pointed out, this is a drop in the bucket from the money they've made. They'll laugh it off and keep doing what they do, unfortunately.

    People have no protection from the evil that corporations do, ever.

    April 27, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
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