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. Ally

    Nice story – it doesn't even say what the illegal marketing was – was it a TV ad or in a magazine? 1 sentence is NOT a story – it's a headline. It doesn't even qualify as a paragraph.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  2. chris

    RE: Comment #118

    I love it when the ignorance is so powerful, it's palpable by someone who can't even spell the word, 'illegal.'

    'Nuff said.

    If you can't spell elementary words, chances are, you probably don't know squat about the government and what they're doing. You'll forgive me if I assume you're a kid who's never taken a history course or a spelling class.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. JW

    Dina,

    Because through compromise and using your head to pick and use the good ideas from both the left and right do we stand the best chance of creating a system that works for all of us. If you only agree with the right or the left then you are a most likely a blind follower that tend not to disagree with what their alignment and will always be force fed their opinions, in the end not helping anyone.

    So turn off your cap locks and post oposition to facts instead of propagating non-sensicle demonization of that which you obviously dont understand.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  4. danna harvey

    WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO ME, AS I TAKE SEROQUEL IN THE MORNING AND AT NIGHT?

    April 27, 2010 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Suresh

    Dude, this is CNN, not some mobile texting prank. How about giving out more details?

    April 27, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dina

    @ JW

    No, what you don't understand is that I don't need to think like you nor does anyone else.

    Name calling in your commentary is ignorance at it's finest. Thank you for sharing now please take an honest long look at yourself.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  7. LBSquirrel

    ALL large pharms include litigous risks into their product's pricing; along with the costs of marketing/ advertising, sales, labor, insurance, inventory, warehousing, shipping, billing, salaries, commissions, etc. They are like an auto or life insurance company that bases rates on claims.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. joe weisz

    I am manic depressive and I took seroquel for a while until I heard about the side effects, which includes eventual diabetes. These rotten drug companies need to have their asses handed to them.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. OpenYerEyes

    My last post was about the company...not the drug in question. Not seeing a LOT of details yet but this is what I have found:

    SAN FRANCISCO (marketWatch) - AstraZeneca PLC /quotes/comstock/13*!azn/quotes/nls/azn (AZN 43.88, -1.03, -2.29%) will pay $520 million to settle claims it improperly marketed its anti-psychotic drug Seroquel, the Department of Justice said Tuesday. Under the settlement, the federal government will get $301.9 million from the civil settlement, and the state Medicaid programs will get up to $218.1 million. AstraZeneca was charged with promoting Seroquel for such unapproved uses as anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and bipolar maintenance, and for unapproved populations such as children and the elderly, according to the Justice Department.

    Care to defend big drug companies now? Poor poor mega rich, couldn't-care-less-about-the-fate-of-their-patients pharma companies :((((((

    April 27, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dave

    @ Danna Harvey

    Means nothing... will not affect you. Unless your insurance decides not to pay by this but you will still be able to take the drug if you really want to. Seroquel is used at low doses for insomnia 12.5 to 25 mg at bedtime. Insurance may not accept this when filled at the pharmacy but your Dr. can just write it another way.

    🙂

    April 27, 2010 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dave

    @ joe weisz

    Thats not the companies fault that your Dr.s fault for not letting you know about it and having a discussion about the costs and benefits of the drug.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. andy

    Here's a tip- Don't do drugs.

    I'm not talking about illegal drugs- most of those aren't nearly as bad as synthetic pharmaceutical garbage, This ruling is a joke. They only made 4 billion now.

    How about revoking their license to sell meds? That would ACTUALLY help the public,

    Tell me one drug that hasn't caused worse side effects?

    Doctors / nurses / insurance companies are all in bed together. Ban kickbacks and gifts to doctors from big Pharma. That would do something, not a slap on the wrist.

    Money talks, and they don't care if we die,

    April 27, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steve Magas

    From MARKETWATCH
    SAN FRANCISCO (marketWatch) - AstraZeneca PLC (AZN 43.92, -0.99, -2.20%) will pay $520 million to settle claims it improperly marketed its anti-psychotic drug Seroquel, the Department of Justice said Tuesday. Under the settlement, the federal government will get $301.9 million from the civil settlement, and the state Medicaid programs will get up to $218.1 million. AstraZeneca was charged with promoting Seroquel for such unapproved uses as anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and bipolar maintenance, and for unapproved populations such as children and the elderly, according to the Justice Department.

    April 27, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. andy

    "$5 Billion in sales – and the OBAMA justice dept only fines them $500M "

    Of course you birthers have to blame this on Obama.

    How about Bush's Presidency who fined them ZERO? Funny you don't talk about that. But as soon as a darkie does something it's bad.

    End the racism, its so 1800's....

    April 27, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dina

    http://www1.astrazeneca-us.com/pi/Seroquel.pdf

    April 27, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
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